Off The Hook with Piers Bourke

We are pleased to be exclusively launching a portfolio of new work by Piers Bourke, a daring step away from his iconic phone boxes towards a deeper exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of formal repetition and blending innovation with tradition.

By Sophie Heatley | 25 Apr 2024

For the last two decades, Piers Bourke has been developing a progressive body of prints, collages and paintings that illustrate his unique ability to develop proprietary processes using traditional techniques. His renderings of British iconography—like the Queen's stamp and phone booths, etched into the global psyche—allow his work to playfully interrogate and celebrate the position that such emblems continue to occupy in our streets and lives. 

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Piers Bourke stood next to one of his iconic prints from his Stamps series

The tricky thing with becoming really well known for a particular style or practice is that it starts to become the only way, or at least the main way, people identify you. For many artists and movement-makers, this is precisely the point; to be recognised for carving out a unique approach to exploring a certain subject or medium. For Bourke, though, while his post boxes and stamps have long been clear identifiers, they’re not actually the main focus of his work. And it’s this focus that he’s taking with him as he steps out of the phone box to answer another call…

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Japanese Vending Machine (2022, Photographic Paper and Acrylic Paint Collaged On Board, 180 x 110 x 7.5 cm)

Luckily for his beloved collectors, of which there are many, Bourke isn’t stepping too far away from his iconographical artworks. The phone isn’t off the hook, you might say—or rather not on Do Not Disturb. We are in 2024, after all. In his latest Shredded series, which combines sculpture, painting, and print, Bourke continues to tread the unlimited possibilities of formal repetition and court ideas around the resurrection and redefinition of traditional mediums and materials. 

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Orange Fan (2019, Raw Pigment and Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 130 x 220 x 8 cm)

Bourke’s latest creations are nothing short of a three-dimensional symphony. The artist painstakingly spirals and layers ribbon-like shreds of an image, akin to the strings of a harp, atop a complete painting. With an agency and unpredictability unique to the artist's every movement, he embellishes the works with lively strokes of paint and gestural marks, not unlike his extensively exhibited Soon To Be Removed collection. 

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Detail from Red Fan (2019, Raw Pigment and Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 130 x 220 x 8 cm)

When Bourke shows me Red Fan Shredded (2021, Collage Paper on Canvas with Acrylic Pigment, 165 x 145cm), he allows it to lean forward so the shreds dangle away from the canvas and sway like the loose, pendulous branches of a weeping willow. Motioning me to walk around the painting, I step closer, move from side to side, and bear witness as several new layers of the work unfold.

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Detail from Red Fan (2019, Raw Pigment and Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 130 x 220 x 8 cm)

Challenging the boundaries between sculpture and two-dimensional art, Bourke explains that he uses canvas for the material’s durability; it enables him to manipulate, twist and weave the substance to ripple above the imagery below. The rolled and sliced paper pieces deliberately reveal and abstract the surface imagery beneath, completed by his decision to allow the paper to break through the edge of the frame, transcending the canvas's confines into near-total abstraction.

Bourke then beckons me towards Sometimes I Wander (2020, Collaged Canvas and Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 145 x 145cm), a triptych inspired by his sojourn in Singapore. As I circle the artwork, the canvas shreds seem to pirouette; the colours sway, the scene morphs, and from every angle, more mirage-like images materialise. A spectacle you can only truly grasp in person.

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Shredding canvas at Piers Bourke's London studio

As their titles might hint, these recent, wandering works exude a palpable sense of fluidity and evolution. Take, for instance, the blazing Joshua Tree Part 2 (2022, Collaged Canvas, Digital Print, and Acrylic Pigment, 165 x 120cm) - a far cry from the Queen's head yet unmistakably Bourke. This collection showcases his unwavering loyalty to his artistic origins while highlighting a graceful shift in his creative practice. 

Off The Hook with Piers Bourke
Joshua Tree Part 2 (2022, Collaged Canvas, Digital Print, and Acrylic Pigment, 165 x 120cm) 

Bourke's category-defying art continues to ignite dialogue on cultural and social moments with wit and relatability, unrestrained by any particular medium, maintaining his place as a true innovator.

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