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May
11

Exhibition: ‘Gilbert & George: Jack Freak Pictures’ at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 25th February – 22nd May 2011

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“We are unhealthy, middle-aged, dirty-minded, depressed, cynical, empty, tired-brained, seedy, rotten, dreaming, badly-behaved, ill-mannered, arrogant, intellectual, self-pitying, honest, successful, hard-working, thoughtful, artistic, religious, fascistic, blood-thirsty, teasing, destructive, ambitious, colourful, damned, stubborn, perverted and good. We are artists.”

Gilbert & George, 1980

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More from the Jack Freak picture show!

Many thankx to Deichtorhallen Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Installation views of ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ by Gilbert & George at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Photos: Fred Dott © Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Fred Dott

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Gilbert & George standing in front of ‘Metal Jack’ (2008) from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ on show at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Photo: Fred Dott © Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Fred Dott

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“According to the writer Michael Bracewell, “the ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ are among the most iconic, philosophically astute and visually violent works that Gilbert & George have ever created.” The dominant pictorial element is the Union Jack, itself an internationally familiar, abstract, geometric pattern and a socially and politically charged symbol whose significance spans the cultural spectrum from contemporary fashion to aggressive national pride. Equally prominent, and linking the ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ to almost every work previously created by the artists, are Gilbert & George themselves in a variety of guises: dancing, gurning, howling, watching, waiting. Sometimes their bodies seem complete; other times they have been fragmented or contorted. Invariably they feature as both subject and object, artwork and artist; they are players in the epic and complex pictorial drama they have created.

Set in the East End of London where Gilbert & George have lived and worked for over forty years, the ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ bring numerous aspects of the modern world to life. Medals, flags, maps, street-signs, graffiti and other less immediately obvious motifs jostle for attention with the brickwork, buildings and even foliage of the contemporary urban environment in works that are densely layered and complexly nuanced to evoke (and sometimes conflate) a sense of past, present and future. They raise fundamental and rudimentary questions about religion, identity, politics, economics, sexuality and death. The ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ reaffirm Gilbert & George’s status as pre-eminent Modernists and underline Robert Rosenblum’s observation that “of the singularity of their duality in life as art, there is little doubt.” Michael Bracewell’s view that they are “visionary artists in the lineage of William Blake” rings truer now than ever before.”

Text from the White Cube website

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Gilbert & George
‘Christian England’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
254 x 528 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Frigidarium’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
381 x 604 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Street Party’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
381 x 604 cm
© Gilbert & George

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“With its major spring show, Deichtorhallen Hamburg is once again bringing stars of the international art world to Hamburg. Gilbert & George (born 1943 and 1942) have long since been acknowledged icons of contemporary art.

The exhibition will present the latest, wide-ranging group of pictures they have ever created. Called the “Jack Freak Pictures”. They will be on display in the cathedral-like setting of the large Deichtorhalle from February 25 to May 22, 2011 for the first time more or less in its entirety – some 120 pictures will be on view.

Gilbert & George’s large-format pictures present decidedly sacred and secular themes. In this case, Gilbert & George have created a group around the British national symbol, the Union Jack, with all its different connotations, from symbol of national pride through to the cult symbol of the British Pop Music world and countercultures. Surrounded by medals and amulets, the streets of London and the red, blue and white design of the British flag, as in their previous art here Gilbert & George are not only the creators of their own world of images, but also act as protagonists in it.

The “Jack Freak Pictures” are among the most symbolic, philosophically most elaborate and visually striking art Gilbert & George have ever created. Within Gilbert & George’s oeuvre as a whole they constitute the powerful concentration of the themes and emotions that the artists have now been exploring in their art for more than 40 years. In these pictures, the artists play the roles of both victim and monster, puppets of a cosmic revue, sleepless guardians of empty big-city streets and crazy-looking talking heads, as Michael Bracewell outlines in his essay in the exhibition catalog. The large pictures, do not address the individual constitution of the two artists but instead point up states of human existence and can be read as a description of the modern world from the artists’ point of view.

The exhibition is being organized by Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the British Council and will move on from Hamburg, albeit it on a smaller scale, to Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria. Hatje Cantz Verlag has brought out a catalog with an essay by Michael Bracewell and color illustrations of all 153 works in the series.”

Text from the Deichtorhallen Hamburg website

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Gilbert & George
‘War Dance’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
151 x 190 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Britainers’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
254 x 302 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Stuff Religion’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
317 x 302 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Union Dance’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
© Gilbert & George

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Gilbert & George
‘Brits’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’
2008
226 x 190 cm
© Gilbert & George

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Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Deichtorstrasse 1-2
20095 HAMBURG
Tel. +49 (0)40 32103-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Closed Mondays

Deichtorhallen Hamburg website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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