Gilbert & George: The General Jungle or Carrying on Sculpting

Art, Contemporary art
4 out of 5 stars
THE COLD MORNING LIGHT FILTERS DUSTILY THROUGH THE WINDOW (1971)
The Sonnabend Collection Foundation, The Estate of Nina Sundell, and Antonio Homem

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Gilbert Proesch (smaller) and George Passmore (glasses) have been a creative duo and lovers for 50 years, since art school. From the ’60s their idea has been to make themselves the artwork –  a ‘living sculpture’ – and create accessible modern art that can mean something to anyone.

Now the suited pair occupy contradictory status as iconoclasts and national treasure bunting-merchants. Eccentrics who preach accessibility; monarchists famous for blasphemous slogans and sweary graffiti; Tories who took pictures of their shit and moved to east London 30 years before all the other artists. They are a complex entity, to say the least.

Mayfair’s Lévy Gorvy gallery is demonstrating G&G’s milder side. These 23 big charcoal drawings (or paper sculptures) of the pair walking amongst nature were originally the backdrop for the 1971 New York show that immortalised their ‘Singing Sculpture’ video in which they sang ‘Under the Arches’ with metallic painted faces.

Texts run along the bottom of these wistful scenes: ‘We stroll with a specialised embarrassment and our purpose is only to take the sunshine’. ‘People are all living near to beauty, passing by’. A far cry from 2005’s ‘God loves fucking!' slogan, and better for it. There’s a soothing melancholy here that feels different to their usual output and also completely at home with their quintessentially British take on conceptual art. And it has what the duo have always wanted their art to have: heart. 

By: Jonathan McAloon

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