From 1 April, you can step into the Gilbert & George Centre for the first time and see their art in this dedicated Spitalfields space. In Gilbert & George’s words, ‘our art is the friendship formed between the viewer and the pictures’ so it makes sense that they have created a public venue for their work, building on their lifelong relationship with East London. The Centre is committed to providing visitors with the widest possible access to the artists’ work, showcasing both new and historical work. The building is a fully realised vision of their ‘Art for All’ ethos.
Gilbert & George’s work is immediately distinctive and the same is true for their Centre, which is modern with a heritage feel. The early 19th Century former brewery was converted sensitively by SIRS Architects in close collaboration with Gilbert & George. The artists firmly believe that London’s legacy is its architecture and sustainability in its broadest sense was crucial to the architects. SIRS integrated environmentally conscious features throughout and took the full lifecycle of the building into account.
The inaugural exhibition is the first London showing of THE PARADISICAL PICTURES. The pictures are curated on the walls of the three state-of-the-art exhibition spaces over the three levels of the building. In these works, Gilbert & George take their place in a disquieting paradise, which draws the viewer deep into an enchanted and overgrown forest. The air appears drugged as the artists transform into fruits and flowers, considering the audience with their watchful eyes. Gilbert & George’s paradise is a psychic and psychedelic landscape. The artists remarked, ‘We are starting with THE PARADISICAL PICTURES because we realise that most people think of paradise as “the after party” and we think of this as the pre-cum party.’
Hurtwood has nurtured a close relationship with the iconic and iconoclastic pair over more than twenty years. In the shop you will find a wide range of Hurtwood’s Gilbert & George titles. On the shelves are the upcoming The Meaning of the Earth by Wolf Jahn, a retrospective and discussion of the artists’ whole body of work, and The Paradisical Pictures, a stunning hardback book with a written contribution from celebrated arts writer and novelist Michael Bracewell. You will hear more about these Hurtwood books soon which will be published on 13 April.
Visit the Gilbert & George Centre from 1 April 2023 at 5a Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ. Discover more here.
Words by Eliza Scott
PARADISICAL PICTURES IMAGES: © Gilbert & George / Courtesy The Gilbert & George Centre
THE GILBERT & GEORGE CENTRE IMAGES: Photo by Prudence Cuming / Courtesy The Gilbert & George Centre
GILBERT & GEORGE AT THE GATES TO THE GILBERT & GEORGE CENTRE: Photograph: Yu Yigang © Gilbert & George / Courtesy The Gilbert & George Centre
Other images courtesy of Eliza Scott and Roger Jones