Since the beginning of his career, Hirst has interacted with the butterfly, one of his best-known motifs. Inspired by a chance encounter in his studio and the intricate patterns found on Victorian tea trays, in The Empresses Hirst develops on the complex compositions he invented in his Kaleidoscope Painting and Mandalas series. The Empresses prints are symmetrical, asymmetrical, and spiral patterns of meticulously organized butterflies that nonetheless exude hope and life – the butterflies feel as if they are taking flight. This effect is in part aided by the material, laminated Giclee print on aluminum composite, screen printed with glitter, which allows the butterfly wings to be presented in such detail to appear lifelike. The images of wings inspire awe and are framed by glitter, a fantastically tactile material previously used by Hirst in his paintings. Glitter is loved for its playfulness and joy – a sentiment echoed in the play-on-words of the series title itself, which alludes to both female rulers and the Empress Butterfly. Hirst has consistently used butterflies for their associations to freedom, religion, life and dead. The Empresses illuminates and sheds light on these themes. Through this new series, these themes become intertwined with glory, female power and the development of nations, visible through the entrancing twists and turns of these five dazzling and vital visual celebrations.