Tate Modern Level 4
15 February – 7 May 2007
Gilbert & George have created an important new group of six pictures for their major retrospective at Tate Modern. The Six Bomb Pictures, the only pictures created by the artists in 2006, comprise a 14 metre triptych entitled Bomb and five other pictures: Bombs; Bomber; Bombers; Bombing and Terror. The artists have described this group of pictures as their most chilling to date.
The main component of the pictures is 136 sandwich board posters, which Gilbert & George have been collecting for over two years, featuring headlines from London’s Evening Standard. Of these, 13 contained the word bomber, 19 the word bombers, 15 the word bombs, 16 the word the word bombing, 14 the word bomb and 29 the word terror.
The artists intend the pictures to be seen as modern townscapes reflecting the daily exposure in urban life to bomb threats and terror alerts. In the wake of the recent bombings in London they are also intended to be viewed as commemorative, each functioning as a memorial with its title written on a tombstone, symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice.
In the triptych, Bomb, the London Plane tree can be seen, the city’s tallest living form and nature’s symbol of continuity. The artists have also featured the fruit of the tree in some of these pictures, referring to the millions of seeds contained therein, alluding to regeneration and hope. The artists are also featured in the pictures, shown variously as guards, witnesses and exploding atomised beings standing in ashes.
Since the early 1970s Gilbert & George have created pictures in series or groups of black and white, then coloured, pictures. They began to introduce bold colours in the early 1980s and subsequent groups usually include one or more pictures realised on a monumental scale. Each shares common motifs and conceptual and formal elements. Among the themes that recur are religion, sexuality, race and identity, what it is to live in a metropolis and the tensions and desires that can arise from the proximity of disparate cultural traditions and values.
Gilbert & George have said:
‘The Six Bomb Picturesare the most chilling pictures we have created to date. We believe that as artists we were able to bring something special in thoughts and feelings to this subject, something the media, religious leaders and politicians find difficult to do.’
Vicente Todoli, Director Tate Modern said:
‘We are delighted to be having a major retrospective of Gilbert & George at Tate Modern, the largest exhibition ever mounted of their art. Including more than 200 pictures created since 1971, the show will be brought up to the present day with this remarkably powerful new group, Six Bomb Pictures.’
Gilbert & George : Major Exhibition Tate Modern opens at Tate Modern on 15 February 2007 and will run until 7 May 2007. It will be their first major retrospective in the UK for more than twenty-five years and will travel extensively in Europe and the US. The exhibition will occupy both the east and west wings on Level 4 at Tate Modern as well as part of the concourse, making it their most comprehensive exhibition ever. Designed by the artists, it will trace their stylistic and emotional development to the present day.