They are the world’s most famous partnership in contemporary art.
British artists Gilbert (born in 1943) and George (born in 1942) have been creating art together under their first names for 50 years, since 1967.
Yes, they think as one. They even move as one, like perfectly synchronised living sculptures.
When one’s face becomes animated then the other’s will too. One starts a sentence, the other finishes it.
They have created a style within photography (it’s officially referred to as mixed media in the description of their artworks) that is immediately recognisable, much like a brand.
Images in grids, head-on snapshots, garish colours, outrageous use of the self-portrait from all angles, even the most intimate…
They have never been as widely exhibited as they are today.
This summer in Berlin they were displaying in a church, St. Matthäus-Kirche, with their Scapegoating series which makes direct allusions to Islamist terrorism.
Grenades, missiles, the official uniform for the contemporary mercenary and women wearing the veil… Nevertheless I have rarely seen such harmony in an exhibition of their work.
They certainly maintained a perfect marriage of the stained-glass effect of their black-gridded compositions within this place of worship.
They refuse to discuss stained-glass windows, but they do mention that “We have even received compliments from the vicar” before declaring: “Ban religion decriminalize sex”.
Right now their new series “The Beard Pictures” is showing across the world, with a programme consisting of sheer beard delirium; beards which act as vehicles for various symbolisms, from the beard clearly vaunted by the practice of Islam to the beard that becomes a vegetal or faecal excrescence, a strange climbing plant, not to mention the beard that forms a metallic barrier over men’s faces.
This great proliferation of beards is accompanied this time by bearded unknown men and by the duo themselves, who are being exhibited in New York at Lehmann Maupin, in Paris (it is on this occasion that I meet them) at Thaddaeus Ropac, in Brussels at the Albert Baronian and in London at White Cube and in December and January in Naples and Athens.
Islamist extremism and its external markers, beards and veils – is this a burning issue? Well, G&G have plunged in. “They are bright red, the colour of anger… the Beards pictures are excursions into a psychic zone of paranoia, demolition and ruination” says the writer Michael Bracewell in the catalogue.
You shouldn’t go looking for a single message in the work of the two Gs, nor even a good or bad moral lesson.
These anarchists, these neo-punks dressed up in suit and tie, like to use their genre to stick the knife in places that will hurt society the most.
Have a listen to their slogans and leitmotifs delivered in canon.
Do you always think as one?
You are fascinated by the news. Why?
You use an aesthetic similar to stained glass, right?
Do you use ambiguity as a weapon in your work?
How do you deal with aging?
What would you like people to remember you for?
What is your next dream?
(The photos have been taken in New York, Paris and London)