Gilbert & George’s work confounds and rejects all art historical classification or affiliation to other schools or movements in art. As affirmed by THE PARADISICAL PICTURES, there is no formalist, aesthetic or conceptual precedent to the ideology and vision they convey with such intensity.
The paintings are fantastical, allegorical, narrative, representational, psychedelic, absurdist, modern yet archaic, surrealist-grotesque, inflected with both tragedy and comedy, filled with pathos, touchingly eloquent of human frailty, age and exhaustion. The art of Gilbert & George is a visionary art above all – it reports from a cosmic journey through life that begins on the streets of London.
THE PARADISICAL PICTURES suggest a chapter in a story that has been unfolding before them and will continue beyond them. This ‘paradise’ is not a destination but a stage on a longer journey. It is a dream of paradise and the exploration of an archetype that is both secular and sacred.
The paradise of these PARADISICAL PICTURES proposes a more ambivalent view – a place of biomorphic mutation, exhaustion, watchfulness and possession.
The special edition brings the fantasy of the paintings to the hardback book. It showcases original artwork by Gilbert & George, as well as 11 different metallic foils on the cover and a painted red edge.
Text by Michael Bracewell
24.5 x 30 cm, landscape
Published by Hurtwood Press
Michael Bracewell is the author of six novels and two works of non-fiction including the much-acclaimed England is Mine. His writing has appeared in The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Fashion Writing and The Faber Book of Pop, and he has written catalogue texts for many contemporary artists, including Gilbert & George, Richard Wentworth and Jim Lambie. He was co-curator of The Secret Public: The Last Days of the British Underground, 1977–1988 at the Kunstverein Munchen in 2006, and was a Turner Prize judge in 2007.
Gilbert & George began creating art together in 1967 when they met at Central St Martins School of Art, and from the beginning – in their films and LIVING SCULPTURE performances – they have appeared as figures in their own art. The ‘two men, one artist’ believe that everything is potential subject matter for art. They address social issues and taboos, challenging what might be considered ‘good taste’. Implicit in their art is the idea that an artist’s sacrifice and personal investment is a necessary condition of art. The backdrop and inspiration for much of their art is the East End of London where Gilbert & George have lived and created art for nearly 50 years.
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