White Cube is pleased to present the NEW NORMAL PICTURES by Gilbert & George at Mason’s Yard. This exhibition brings together 26 pictures from a new series they have been working on for over two years.
Since meeting as students in the late summer of 1967, Gilbert & George have been travelling together on a visionary and moral journey that they liken to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Their journey is made on foot, along the endless streets of London; occasionally by bus to the city’s eastern edges. It encompasses new-build developments on reclaimed and reworked land; excursions into a not-too-distant future, as disquietingly mild as it is lowering.
Gilbert & George’s NEW NORMAL PICTURES have the air, also, of temperate yet strangely intense days. In fact, the stages on a journey they seem to recount have a ‘post-everything’ air; as though they have just crossed through a fissure in time to a place that is almost but not quite familiar – a place that looks normal but is not normal, is skewed, perhaps abandoned.
Gilbert & George bring worlds to life in their art that are also moods and feelings. Brute realism is infused with the vague yet precise temper of disquieting and uneasy dreams. They often use very few elements, a concentrate of concise image-subjects to create violence, drama and mystery in their pictures. Litter, railings, drug bags, shovels, spades and old trinkets become like a ‘palette’ as if primal images that do the work of primary colours. In these pictures there are no ambiguous shades, no finesse or subtlety softens their bleak urban other-worldliness.
The NEW NORMAL PICTURES suggest that the old punk adage ‘the day the world turned Day-Glo’ has come to life. Everywhere is dark yet too bright, tonal contrasts go to war with one another. In streets, alleys and vistas, the unreal city seems to rearrange time and tenses, accelerating the slow and stalling the immediate. The overlooked and thrown away reacquires visibility and meaning. The usual hierarchies reverse; discard dominates.
A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by writer and novelist Michael Bracewell, as well as four unique posters designed by the artist, are available to coincide with the exhibition.
With thanks to Michael Bracewell.