Gilbert & George: Drinking Pieces & Video Sculpture 1972-1973




As part of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s inaugural programme for their new London Gallery, Gilbert & George: Drinking Pieces & Video Sculpture 1972-73 is installed in the spacious ground floor gallery at Ely House, providing a unique and timely opportunity to review the importance and resonance of Gilbert & George’s early art.

After selling their first work of art in 1970, Gilbert & George celebrated by getting drunk at Balls Brothers Wine Bar in Bethnal Green, London, and recorded their experience in a series of black and white pictures. In this series, referred to as Drinking Pieces, the distorted and blurred images evoke a feeling of inebriation. As Gilbert & George states: ‘Artist’s would get smashed at night, but in the morning they would go to their studio and make a perfect minimal sculpture. They were alcoholics but their art was dead sober. We did the Drinking Sculptures as a reflection of life’. This highly original approach epitomises how Gilbert & George expand the notion of object-making to encompass the variety of their living experience. With titles that reflect their moods, such as Swaying, Falling, Toy Wine and The Glass, the fragmented scenes are installed directly onto the wall in groupings and patterns, a precursor to the distinctive e grid-format that has since become their recognisable style.

First presented in four separate exhibitions in Europe and in the United States between 1972 and 1973, the Drinking Pieces have a distinctly English air of melancholy, reflecting and rejecting much ofthe social and political turmoil that was unfolding in Britain at that time: growing unemployment, general strikes, ‘black-outs’ and intense sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Breaking away from Minimal Art’s deliberate lack of expressive content and rigid sense of form the Drinking Pieces are a testament to Gilbert & George’s highly original art making that makes them amongst the most influential artists of our time.

The three Video Sculptures included in this exhibition (A Portrait of the Artists as Young Men, In the Bush, and Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk) show the artists smoking, walking, and drinking to the sound of thunder, birdsong, Edward Elgar’s orchestral piece Pomp and Circumstance and Edvard Grieg’s idyllic Morning.

Also showing at the gallery:

Minimal Art From the Marzona Collection

Joseph Beuys: Sculpture and Early Drawings

Olliver Beer: New Performance and Sculpture

Duration 28 April 2017 - 29 July 2017
Times Monday to Saturday: 10am - 6pm
Cost Free
Venue Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Address Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NJ
Contact 4402038138400 / polly.gaer@ropac.net / www.ropac.net

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