The artists reveal they will soon have a retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London at the opening of their permanent exhibition space
By Tom Seymour
Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore, better known as Gilbert & George, moved into their home, just off Brick Lane in the east of London, in 1968.
“It was a shithole, full of damaged people,” George says of the area. “We came here because it was cheap and we couldn’t afford anywhere better. But we stayed because it was romantic.” (...)
The centre has been designed by SIRS Architects to mimic the exterior designs of Gilbert and George’s restored Georgian home. It comprises three exhibition spaces over three levels, spanning a total of 280 sq. m, which will host a revolving programme of new and historical work by the artists. There will be no admission charge for the majority of the programme.
“It’s a place for us to show our living journey as artists,” Gilbert says. That journey continues. Gilbert tells The Art Newspaper that the pair will be holding a major show at the Hayward Gallery, on London’s Southbank, likely in 2025.
“We will just show 21st Century Pictures series. One very specific group of images that’s never been shown here in the UK,” George says of the show.
“Just images made over the last 23 years,” Gilbert adds. “Just from this century, and only this century.”
The Hayward show will surely attract the crowds. Gilbert & George, gay men born during the Second World War and raised in households of humble means, have grown to become two of the most distinctive and recognisable cultural figures in the UK. They have also become synonymous with an area now closely associated with the UK’s most progressive contemporary art. (...)
At the start of their careers, Gilbert & George adopted the slogan "Art for All". They were early performance art pioneers, sometimes performing continuously for a day at a time. They also gained a reputation for being willing to exhibit in spaces far beyond London’s established commercial gallery world. But has the art world become less elitist, and more inclusive, in their life time?
“More people know more about art than ever before, in the history of mankind,” George says. “The artist has never been more privileged.”
“Now, there are more artists, more collectors, more galleries,” Gilbert says. “We used to talk about ‘art for all’. It was an innocent statement at the time. We felt commercial galleries are limited, because they are for selling. We tried to reach beyond that.”
Now, 55 years after they moved in, they have opened a permanent exhibition centre that will be dedicated to their art. The Gilbert & George Centre, on Heneage Street, just off Brick Lane and directly adjacent to the Prince of Spitalfields public house, will open on 1 April. It has been converted from a brewery that dates back to around 1820, and sits next to the artists’ home and studio of many years, a restored Georgian house, on neighbouring Fournier Street. (...)
The Gilbert & George Centre, opening 1 April, Spitalfields, London