The ever-challenging British artist duo show the image series THE COSMOLOGICAL PICTURES, which comprises 25 works and was created in 1989 while major political changes were underway in Europe. Crossing borders and in a spirit of general understanding Gilbert & George want to exhibit the works in ‘new Europe’. For they see themselves, regarding their moral perspective, as ‘folk artists’ and want to speak directly to viewers of the most varied age groups, backgrounds and races possible. “We are not interested in art, but in life.”
Gilbert & George
Taking elements of everyday life in the London metropolis they have generated ‘photo pieces’ which – disciplined and strikingly coloured – are united in a dense sequence of keen vehemence. Through their own existence and self-portrayal (“we and our work belong together entirely”) Gilbert & George investigate the emotions of the modern man or woman, real or putative motivations in life. Gestures, poses and mimicry by the artists or young models make crafted expressions of hope, fear, hate, alienation, happiness and humiliation, which the additional figurative pictorial elements like terraced streets, trees, flowers and buildings dominate, complement or emphasise. Sometimes fiercely physical, sometimes contemplative, the boundlessly rich and compact works defy anecdotal or unambiguous reading. They become metaphorical stress fields between images of eros and death, apocalypse and paradise (Death over Life).
If, while starting out, when performing as ‘Living Sculptures’, Gilbert & George’s central theme was the loss of sense and meaning in human existence and its indifference and isolation, THE COSMOLOGICAL PICTURES show, as never before, the search for a condensed view on a universal scale. Within this, humanity has a place, with all our experiences, even the distressing and taboo. In Total, for example, a skyline and a human gesture of veneration meld into a monumental flower form that encompasses them both, or wide-open and closed eyes bear witness to spheres that cannot be pictured: “The idea here is that you are a part of the universe, that you are a part of life. But we don’t know which part.”