Artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso creates elaborate artworks from carefully-arranged organic matter. In her series of “Butterfly Drawings,” she uses the delicate wings from dead butterflies to create patterns and shapes. The luminescent wings glow with rich color, elucidating the relationship between beauty and death.
At first sight, the intense color of some of the Butterfly Drawings can trick the viewer into thinking they are looking at printed wallpaper patterns. But upon closer inspection, the viewer can delight in seeing that the delicate lines, rich color, and shapes are in fact actual butterfly wings. Cardoso has arranged some like a kaleidoscope, repeating the fine pattern and color of one wing to the next. Others create an organic swirl, resembling another animal all-together.
Cardoso is deeply interested in the science of wing patterns – she researched the nymphalid pattern and chose specimens that portray it best. Her work pays tribute to this miraculous geometric perfection that appears in nature on the delicate wings of the butterfly. Incredible turquoises, vermillion, gold and other jewel-toned wings glitter against the stark white sheets of Perspex which the wings are glued to.
Aside from being a display of beautiful colors, Butterfly Drawings also explore the relationship between beauty and death. By showcasing elements of everlasting beauty from a dead creature, Cardoso asks us to confront death – and the glamorized idea of it.
Cardoso’s other bodies of work also question the relation between beauty and death. She has used snakes, frogs, stick bugs, sheep, and other animals as both materials and inspiration for her works.