Gilbert & George, ‘The Nature of Our Looking’ 1970
Gilbert & George
The Nature of Our Looking 1970
© Gilbert and George

THE NATURE OF OUR LOOKING is based on a series of images of Gilbert & George taken in the countryside near Colchester. The artists describe it not as a drawing, but as a charcoal-on-paper sculpture. Its imposing scale creates the same kind of physical presence as a sculpture, while the aged appearance of the paper – artificially discoloured – suggests the aura of an ancient document.

Gilbert & George made several early pictures and videos with a pastoral setting, which seems surprising in retrospect, given the resolutely urban character of so much of their later art. They seemed to be tapping into an English love of idyllic rural imagery, evoked by the words ‘Here in the country’s heart where the grass is green’ by the Victorian poet Norman Gale, which are quoted within the sculpture.