Image: Opening of the Gilbert & George Centre
Gilbert & George, ROSY, 2019. © Gilbert & George
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Opening of the Gilbert & George Centre 'The great Right-wingers of British art may actually live for ever'

24 March 2023
Gilbert and George Centre, London.

By Alastair Sooke

The veteran contemporary artists have turned a former brewery near their home into a fantastic permanent gallery for their work.
(...) The artistic double act Gilbert & George (are) self-professed “Living Sculptures”, whose visionary, quasi-vaudevillian shtick has lasted for more than five decades, since they met, at St Martin’s School of Art, in 1967.

We are standing in a cobbled courtyard off Brick Lane, a stone’s throw from their 18th-century home and studio in Spitalfields, at the threshold of the Gilbert & George Centre, a new gallery (and registered charity) that’s about to open to the public, for free (naturally: “Art for All” is their mantra), on – when else? – April Fool’s Day. (...)

Now, (their work) will be on permanent display within the capital. “So we can live for ever,” explains George, looking none too pleased at the prospect. “We’re believers in the force of culture, not the vicar or the policeman.” (...)

The courtyard’s Dickensian atmosphere, though, is swiftly replaced by something more state-of-the-art inside, as visitors circulate through three large, artificially lit galleries, one with an impressive vaulted timber ceiling. First up, G&G are showing their psychedelic “Paradisical Pictures” (2019), which glow against soft-grey walls.

In them, like Green Men decorating a cathedral, or incongruously suited sprites hiding in hedgerows, the artists appear, surreally, to merge with, and decompose among, swirling, fluorescent blooms and mulch. On the other side of town, at the White Cube gallery in St James’s, in a more recent set of "Corpsing Pictures", they pose like recumbent tomb effigies surrounded by blown-up images of bones collected on long urban rambles.

Evidently, then, the afterlife is on these octogenarian artists’ minds. With the centre, which, thanks to the stained-glass-like effect of the "Paradisical Pictures", currently has the feel of a memorial chapel, their position in British art’s pantheon should be secure.


From April 1; 

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