Gilbert & George Major Exhibition: Room guide, room 4

Gilbert & George, Dusty Corners No.2 1975

Gilbert & George
Dusty Corners No.2 1975

Private collection, London

Gilbert & George, Dead Boards No.17 1976

Gilbert & George
Dead Boards No.17 1976

Private collection, Italy, courtesy Massimo Valsecchi

We were trying to do something that was absolutely hopeless, dead, grey, lost’, Gilbert & George have said of the DEAD BOARDS pictures. Like the DUSTY CORNERS which preceded them, these interior studies of decaying empty rooms and isolated individuals are marked by melancholia. Even when the figures change positions, the same walls and the same boards are repeated, adding to their claustrophobic intensity.

The setting is their wood-panelled house in Fournier Street, near Spitalfields Market in the East End. Gilbert & George have lived there since 1968, when they rented the ground floor. In the mid-1970s they bought the house. The building was in a state of considerable disrepair, and a damp-stained ceiling can be seen in several of these images. They have described the process of renovation as one of the hardest tasks they ever undertook, and the house now serves as their studio as well as their home.