What are 'The Empress Paintings'?

The Empress Paintings (2023) depict mesmerising compositions of red, black and gold butterfly wings. Hirst expands on techniques he first introduced in his Kaleidoscope Paintings in 2001. Paint, oil ink and paper are applied to canvas to create a series of intricate works. Some symmetrical and others spiralling, the paintings strike a balance between exquisite order and exuberant vitality.

Each painting is named after an influential female ruler. Hirst has long used the butterfly as a symbol for themes such as freedom, religion, life and death; here these themes gain new resonance as they become intertwined with concepts of glory and female power.

Ranging in size from 213.4 x 213.4cm down to 100 x 100cm, each of the 54 works is signed, titled, numbered and dated on the back. The works are presented in an artist-designed plywood frame, which are painted on the front.