Colourful Language – The Banners by Gilbert and George opens at White Cube, London

The 48-year-long,  two-man uprising known as Gilbert and George rages on, introducing 30 pieces known collectively as The Banners to White Cube, the gallery which has represented them since 2000.

The artists, who fell in love at first sight while studying at Central St Martins , have made a name (or two) for themselves over their near half century together with their protest poetry. Although their tendency is to offend people, they consider themselves moralists and hold ethics in higher regard than aesthetics.

USE Portrait GG IN FRONT OF BANNER_creditYuYigangPortrait of Gilbert and George © Gilbert & George Photo: Yu Yigang

If only visually acquainted with the men, one may struggle to believe that aesthetics could ever be a runner up in their methodology. Gilbert and George are known for their tandem dandy-ness – so debonair in their presentation that they were included in the March 2013 Guardian list of fifty best dressed over 50. They regard themselves as “living sculptures”, thus are as meticulous with curating their wardrobe as they are with executing artistic concepts.

Gilbert George Gilbert George say- FUCK THE PLANET 1 2015 (high res)Gilbert and George say Fuck the Planet (2015). Water colour paper mounted on linen with three brass
eyelets, red paint and black spray can paint 48 1/16 x 59 13/16 in. (122 x 152 cm)
© Gilbert & George.Photo © Gilbert & George Courtesy White Cube

In 2014, they appeared at the Serpentine’s Extinction Marathon with banners demanding people Burn That Book and stating Fuck The Planet. They have since added eight new slogans to their arsenal of feather-ruffling slogans.This repertoire evolved from their overarching philosophy, or motto, Art For All.

The most established anti-establishment duo in the UK art scene return to what is arguably their most beloved medium – the alphabet – in  the series of 30 works .

Using watercolour paper and crude painted text to blare out their statements, the pair remind us of their unfaltering love for the queen which runs as strong as their unfaltering hatred of religion. As is often the case with their creations, the restrained palette is compensated for by their colourful language.

Gilbert George Gilbert George say- DECRIMINALISE SEX 1 2015 (high res)

Gilbert & George say: Decriminalise Sex (2015). Water colour paper mounted on linen with three brass eyelets, red paint and black spray can paint, 48 1/16 x 59 13/16 in. (122 x 152 cm).
© Gilbert & George. Photo © Gilbert & George Courtesy White Cube

Predictably unpredictable, authoritarian and anti- authority, the art of contradiction reaches mastery through the prism of Gilbert and George. They may be hardened Conservatives, but they are anything but conservative. To Gilbert and George, the whole world (particularly the familiar terrain of east London) is an art gallery.

If one fancies stepping out of this big art gallery into a smaller one, one can view their work until the end of January at White Cube Gallery.

by Yasmin Bilbeisi

All images are © the artist and White Cube (or the photographer in some instances).

The Banners opens tonight and runs until January 24, 2016 at White Cube Gallery, 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street
, London 
Tel +44 (0) 207 930 5373
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 
10am – 6pm; 
12pm – 6pm
Gilbert and George will be signing posters and their new catalogue for The Banners on December 8, 2015. See the White Cube website for further details.

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Glass Online art writer

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