Positioned just off Brick Lane, near where they live, it’s architecturally impressive with visitors entering through a gate and into a cobbled courtyard. A small hut allows us to listen to an interview with them and acts as an introduction to their work, before entering three floors of contemporary galleries filled with their Paradisical Pictures – recent works by the pair that are being shown in the UK for the first time.
The works are huge and filled with plant life in lurid blues, greens and reds. As with any work by Gilbert & George, the artists themselves also appear in the works – as disembodied eyes, slumped on a bench or looming large over us with skin so bright it looks radioactive, and red eyes that appear demoniac.
Yes, this is paradise, but very much a paradise in Gilbert & George’s own image that’s filled with plants, images of themselves and their trademark cheeky humour seen in the titles of the works – including one called ‘bed-wetting’ and another featuring dates rather crudely called ‘date rape’. That being said, it’s still a safer series of works to open with that are big, colourful and will likely have broad appeal – and are far less confrontational than their previous works that have included nudity, excrement, drugs and copious amounts of swearing. The Paradisical Pictures is a fun first exhibition to launch the centre with.
What comes next is also unclear as there is an intention to rotate the works they show, as they have quite the back catalogue, but no end date has been announced for this exhibition. And we’ll have to wait and see if in the future they also show other artists – preferably emerging and local ones – or if this becomes another marginalised institute like Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery has been recently.
There’s no denying the ego of Gilbert & George in opening their own museum – made clear by their Financial Times interview in 2019 when they stated they were opening this centre ‘because all museums are now woke’ and don’t show their work. They clearly have the financial means, it’s a sure-fire way to cement their legacy and entry is free. London’s vibrant cultural scene will always welcome another free museum, and this one’s an impressive addition.
The Gilbert & George centre: The Paradisical Pictures opens on Saturday 1 April
Second image: Photo by Prudence Cuming / Courtesy The Gilbert & George Centre
Third image: © Gilbert & George / Courtesy The Gilbert & George Centre
|What||Gilbert & George centre, The Paradisical Pictures, review|
|Nearest tube||Aldgate East (underground)|
01 Apr 23 – 01 Oct 23, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information.|