Gilbert and George 'celebrate' London with splashy tabloid headlines


12 March 2012

Artist duo Gilbert and George unveiled their largest ever body of work today, calling it a "celebration" of the free presses.

‘Bloodbath in London McDonalds’, ‘Toxic Cloud Hits London: Pictures’, and ‘Stabbed Banker: The Last Minutes’ are among the nearly 4,000 headlines screaming down from the walls of the artists’ new exhibition, 'London Pictures', which they call “a faithful portrait of the city over the past six years”.

Despite the grim vision that is presented in the prints, the artists deny that the work is in any way intended to be critical.

“It is a celebration of London and of free society, and reflects the good just as much as the bad. We are lucky. Many of these words are banned from being printed in some countries."

Dressed in their trademark matching tweed suits, Gilbert Prosech, 68, and George Passmore, 70, were talking at the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey, at the unveiling of the work which has taken them two years to put together.

Spanning three central London galleries and one more in Hong Kong, the series is the largest body of work ever made by the collaborative duo, who have been at the forefront of the British art scene since the 1970s.

Each of the 292 large-scale collages, priced from £50,000 to £250,000, has a theme. Among them are ‘Sex’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Banker’, ‘Yob’, or simply the figure of a large sum of money, which is depicted in repeating red letters on an otherwise black, white and beige image.

Given the climate in which they have been working, you might be forgiven for reading the oppressive reductionism in these black, white and red "London pictures" as a scathing attack on the British press and the greed of bankers. However, the artists today defended both such hate-figures.

“We don’t dislike journalists and bankers as much as squatters. If there’s any group taking liberties with British tax-payers’ money, it’s the middle-class squatters outside Saint Paul’s Cathedral who are using up valuable police time," said the artists, who pride themselves on their right-wing views, and are "great admirers" of Margaret Thatcher.

“Our aim has never been to point the finger. This is just realism. Everything written on these walls really happened.

"We don't think people will want to hang theses pictures on their walls, but we think they're important."

The posters have been stolen and hoarded by the artists from news stands in east, north and central London over a period of six years. They say they deliberately avoided any posters that didn’t seem relevant to “society”.


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