In Damien Hirst’s world, skulls have a distinct role to play. Like the Memento Mori or the vanitas symbols in the history of art, they portray the artist’s obsession with the inevitability of human mortality.
Furthermore, since the beginning of his career, the artist has been fascinated by the possibilities of print-making and multiple images.
Encompassing two of the main motifs of Hirst`s oeuvre, I Once Was What You Are, You Will Be What I Am is a complete set of photogravure etchings. The prints depict six mysterious and slightly menacing human skulls, appearing from a void and black background. Furthermore, the photogravure works were hand-inked, bringing out the rich and velvety texture of the ground and shadow from which the skulls appear.
The present set was printed in a small edition of 48 copies on 400gsm Velin Arches paper, in a small edition of 48, and published by Paragon Press, London.
Overall, the Portfolio represents a Memento Mori - the Latin expression for "Remember your mortality" or "Remember you must die"- whose aim is to remind people of their mortality, an artistic theme dating back to antiquity.
“You don’t like it (death), so you disguise it or you decorate it to make it look like something bearable – to such an extent that it becomes something else.„