Pierce Brosnan unveils deeply personal paintings in his first solo art exhibit

Pierce began pursuing the visual arts as a young boy living in Ireland
The exhibit has helped Pierce see the totality of his work
The exhibit has helped Pierce see the totality of his work

Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan has attempted to write about himself many times, but it’s through painting that the artist truly feels he can fully express himself. “(The artwork) is biographical. I’ve tried to write the memoirs, and it’s so boring. It’s just having to dig into the head and the heart and the memory of life. And so these paintings definitely have a history of who I was, where I was, when I was,” said the actor.

Pierce is publicly unveiling his most vulnerable role yet, hosting his first solo art exhibition — which runs through May 21 in Los Angeles. Titled “So Many Dreams,” it’s a collection of paintings and drawings that the actor created between the 1980s and present day.

Painting isn’t a new pandemic hobby or venture that the actor is just now tackling head-on. Although best known for playing James Bond and starring in other classics, Pierce began pursuing the visual arts as a young boy living in Ireland. He would later move to the United States, landing where he would land the lead role on NBC’s Remington Steele, which made him a global household name and one of the most coveted actors in Hollywood.

“I found myself living here, and I was strongly influenced by the LA artists of the early 80s. I had a certain desire and wish and a want to paint. I had the money to afford the art supplies, the canvas, the brushes,” Pierce said. “I bought all these wonderful, wonderful art supplies, and they just ended up in a cupboard.”

<em>Pierce Brosnan's One Dark Night, acrylic on canvas. </em>
Pierce Brosnan's One Dark Night, acrylic on canvas. 

It wasn’t until 1987, when Pierce’s late wife, Australian actor Cassandra Harris, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that he would dust off his painting supplies and began to use the art form as an emotional release and comfort for him and Harris.

“One night, I got up, and I just started painting. I started painting with my fingers,” said Pierce, recalling how he would paint while Harris recovered from chemotherapy treatments. She died in 1991, but the actor has kept that first work, titled “One Dark Night” and it hangs in the exhibit.

Primary colours stretch across a smudged black painted canvas and one can almost see the frustration and release that Pierce must have felt. “I went to the canvas to explore that dark rage, that kind of fractured pain that I had. But the colour came out. And so the colour balance to whatever that inner life was,” he said.

While pops of bright colours factor prominently in the artiste’s art, he says he doesn’t wish to categorise his collection. “Someone else can categorize it. It’s not up for me to define it. It’s the audience. It’s they who want to criticize or celebrate the work,” he said.

He credits his wife, journalist and documentarian Keely Shaye Brosnan, for giving him the courage and push to publicly display his art. Many of Pierce’s paintings are a result of drawings that he creates while chatting on the phone.

“My wife, Keely, bought these pads that sit by the phone with her initials, my initials. And soon as I am on a phone call, or I’m doing business, and I have a morning of calls. The pad is there, and the drawings just happen. They just show themselves, so they have a mystery.”

A wall of the exhibit features drawings, many of which are faces that pop into his mind or photographs that he comes across. “I look at that, and I think, who is this person. ’Who is this man? What is the meaning of these images,” said the actor.

Pierce’s first solo exhibit, thanks to a push from Keely and perfectly timed around the actor’s 70th birthday on Tuesday, is a celebration of his work and the dreams he’s fulfilled during his time.

<em>Pierce Brosnan's So Many Dreams, acrylic on canvas</em>
Pierce Brosnan's So Many Dreams, acrylic on canvas

“It’s my own birthday gift to myself to have the courage to say, come and see my artwork,” he said. “I still have so many dreams. I have fulfilled coming to America. Creating a career for myself was a big dream and a gamble, and it paid off. ‘So Many Dreams’ is a love story. It’s a love story of women who have influenced my life and my children and the art form that I make as an actor,” he added.

The exhibit has helped Pierce see the totality of his work and he says he can now “work my way out of the weeds and trying to define it and trying to grow as an artist, as a painter.” He wants to branch out into other art forms, ceramics, pottery, sculpture and even wood carvings. “This is definitely a transitional moment in my life as an actor, as an artist ... and that fills me with an exhilaration of expectations and desires and wants. And we shall see where the wind takes us.”

But Pierce does have one solution to his failed attempts at writing a memoir. “I think a book of paintings would be nice. It would be a coffee table book with a painting and then 500 words or more about that period in time, that person. That kind of that appeals to me.”

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