An exquisite exhibition of Gilbert & George’s artwork is gracing the walls of Brighton Museum from this Saturday. The work presented in the gallery is from 1969 to 1997 and is a perfect representation of every subject they touched on in that period. The Turner Prize winning artists have created art and shared their lives together for fifty years. They present themselves to viewers as ‘living sculptures’ and use their medium to challenge art and life and “turn the notion of creativity on its head.” The exhibition was possible because of the joint venture of the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, ‘ARTIST ROOMS’. The touring collection has over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art by over 40 artists, that has been seen by 40 million people in 150 displays across the country. Their aim with the touring project is “to give young people the chance to get involved in creative projects, discover more about art and learn new skills”. The collection was established thanks to The D’Offay Donation in 2008 and with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British governments.
In addition to the exhibition, The Museum Collective, a group of young people aged 14-24, are working with artists, curators and industry specialists to bring a series of events, ‘ART FOR ALL!’ that go by Gilbert & George’s ten commandments. i. Thou shalt fight conformism / ii. Thou shalt be the messenger of freedoms / iii. Thou shalt make use of sex / iv. Thou shalt reinvent life / Thou shalt grab the soul / v. Thou shalt grab the soul / vi. Thou shalt give thy love / vii. Thou shalt create artificial art / viii. Thou shalt have a sense of purpose / ix. Thou shalt not know exactly what thou dost, but thou shalt do it / x. Thou shalt give something back. The workshops and events they will be putting on have not yet been announced but we will have full coverage of them when they are. The exhibition is free for young people under the age of 26 and for members, for local residents 26 and over the price of entry is only £3.50 and for non-residents, the fee is included in the museum entry charge. As part of the museum’s ‘Brighton Museum Free Days’ initiative, entry to the gallery is free on 5th May, 24 June, 7 July and 18th August.
The work featured shows the artists continued reaction to the formal abstraction practice which was dominant at Saint Martin’s School of Art when the two studied there. They met at the university in 1967 as students in the sculpture department. Their practice has been refined over time but there have been mainstays in the two artists presentation of themselves to their audience, the abolishment of their surnames and uniting of their first names and their ‘responsibility suits’ which are near identical. Gilbert Prousch was born in South Tyrol in Northern Italy and George Passmore was born in Plymouth and since 1967 the two have been a unified force of creation offering their “radically new vision of what could constitute art.”
The exhibition is divided into three rooms, ‘All The World An Art Gallery’, ‘The Head, The Soul, The Sex’ and ‘The Flower and the Shit’. Gallery One looks at the early works after graduating from Saint Martin’s. The room “shows the development of the photographic grid structures that became Gilbert & George signature style. No matter what medium the artists used, Gilbert & George described their works as ‘sculpture’ in order to emphasise their physical presence and very status as art”. Gallery two presents the work they created in the 80’s. The sculptures Gilbert & George produced aimed to encompass the social world around their home and explored the concept of aligning themselves “with the outsider, such as the homeless person, the disenfranchised young man and the graffiti-artist. Their sympathy for people on the margins of society resonates with the artists’ homosexuality.” Gallery Three shows work in the wake of the AIDS crisis. “In the New Democratic Pictures, they are portrayed as larger-than-life figures inhabiting dream-like worlds where conventional codes and beliefs are questioned.”
The exhibition is an incredible edition to Brighton’s art scene for the coming months, it’s not one to miss.