Gilbert & George exhibition review at White Cube

Gilbert & George
North Galleries and South Galleries, White Cube Bermondsey
18 July – 28 September 2014


The White Cube, Bermondsey is this summer presenting The SCAPEGOATING PICTURES, the latest addition to Gilbert & George’s collection since the start of their collaboration in 1967. The 60 multi-panel photomontage images are covering all of the North and South Galleries in addition to two short videos giving an insight to the artists’ work and partnership as well as written work.

© Gilbert & George, White Cube Gallery, 2014

An instantly overwhelming feeling strikes as entering the first gallery, where the images are filling the large walls and the significant red, black and orange colours makes us feel they are predominantly there to provoke. The work is covering a modern urban East-London existence, we see repeated hints of street names and the well known Brick Lane, where the artists own homes are, is coming into display several times. The gallery is mentioning the exhibition to “affirm and intensify the historically iconic art of Gilbert & George, in its tireless, emotional and profound engagement with the viewer and the modern world”, and we see a numerous repetitive elements in the images; women in niqabs, often with eyes exchanged with cut out replacements, skeletons, masks, street signs and London transport modes.

The artists themselves are as usual placed in the centre of every image as a part of their self-declared long-life performance as living sculptures. Their performance act also comes apparent in the numerous bomb shaped canisters placed in most images, enlarged and out of their usual habitat, which the artists has collected over a number of Sunday mornings walks in their East London neighbourhood.

© Gilbert & George, White Cube Gallery, 2014

The feeling of the hallucinogenic and euphoric reaction usually provided when inhaling the original content of the hippy-crack canisters has almost been transferred to the images, although in a more overwhelming feeling of paranoia and fear. We get a feeling of surveillance and accusations facilitated by suspicious people seemingly running away from something, images taken from far away or from above and repeated apprehensive glances from people on the street.

The heavy use of semiotics almost makes me feel uncomfortable but instead it feels powerful and real. As we walk through the remaining two galleries it becomes apparent that the multi-faith/multi-culture/multi-sexuality world we live in is a heavily contemplated theme throughout the exhibition, we may wonder who the political charged character are referring to.

© Gilbert & George, White Cube Gallery, 2014

The exhibition ends with an image of the Queen, as a reminder to how real it all is, and a sum up to how we all have predetermined ideas about the things that we see and create links between subjects and icons. We find ourselves in an almost banal change of scene from east London to the polished White Cube and Bermondsey reflecting on a disguised realism created by our own inventiveness.


Review written by marketing volunteer Marianne Bjørnmyr