Friday, July 17, 2015


Matisse did butterflies - or is that butterflys, or even flutterbyes, or flutterbys - so why can't I? The traditions of Art are prescriptively narrow; one may make a still life of a bowl of apples, or a kitchen table replete with meat and vegetables, or a single flower, or an entire bowl of flowers, or a tree, and many types of bird have been still-lived (I think that should probably be still-liven if we are going to neologise a verb here), but the butterfly is so seriously overlooked that maybe I should have said proscriptively and not prescriptively narrow.

Salvador Dali used the butterfly as a kind of frame, rather than painting the creature, though there is one splendid example of him actually painting the creature. Van Gogh spent 1890 doing little else but paint butterflies, though one of them at least is actually a moth. Somewhat grotesquely, the Floridian artist Cristiam Ramos does his paintings on the actual wings of dead butterflies, though I do believe that he waits for them to die rather than performing papillicide (two neologisms on the same day!). But other than that, and late Matisse origami, you will have to go to ancient Egypt, or Japan before the fall of the Emperor, to find real attention being paid to this most beautiful creature which is also one of the great symbols of agnosticism in the world (you didn't know that? then ask yourself, you who believe that God created everything: which came first, the caterpillar or the butterfly?)

I have no idea if a butterfly actually exists with the colours that I have given to this one, but if it doesn't, then it should do, and I will hold God personally responsible for the omission.

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