Gilbert & George may be the most famous, still-living, longest lasting gay couple in the world. What makes their partnership even more notable is how successful both Gilbert Passmore and George Proesch are as artists and have been so for decades.
Their conservative suits and unremarkable appearance is at odds with their aggressive style and the subject matter of their art, which addresses violent subjects such as war, racism, and street life — all in a polished and luxurious presentation.
In this collection exhibiting at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Pantin, "Scapegoat Pictures for Paris," their signature style of large scale pieces evocative of massive stained glass windows fill the gallery with a clash of red, yellow, black, and white.
Aside from addressing youth culture and multiculturalism in London, the pieces all include bomb-like canisters. Are they bombs? Thermoses? Medical supplies? They are nitrous oxide tanks — laughing gas.
George tells apollo-magazine.com that they are also known as "hippy-crack" and "whippets." There is a palpable tension between the fear and paranoia depicted in the work, all based on picking an object on which to hang your fears, and the repetition of the laughing gas cannisters. The disarming beauty of the heroically-sized work is at odds with the politics of the images, which can poke both at bigots and liberals in equal measure.
"Scapegoat Pictures for Paris" is at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (Pantin), Paris, until November 15.
The following images are courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg. Copyright Gilbert & George.