Gilbert, George and Nana

One recent early winter’s Sunday, under a flat and freezing concrete sky, Nana tore herself away from the Sunday papers and an open fire and went to visit Gilbert and George. They were esconced in only one small room in Edinburgh’s Gallery of Modern Art.
No matter.
The large and challenging canvases of ‘Hunger’ and ‘Thirst’, showing bright, bold, naive images of acts of fellatio were a little difficult to engage with at first. Having fought her blushes, though, Nana found herself increasingly stirred and began eyeing her gallery partner and the black leather banquette and wondering if she might make a valid contribution to the artistic message.
Demurely, she settled for observing the reactions of her fellow art seekers for a while. Jolly good fun.
Then her eye was drawn to ‘Crusade’ in which G and G are seated on high backed chairs, clutching the wooden spines of the chair backs as if carrying crosses. In this context, Nana mused, they looked rather as if they were grasping the shafts of their penises (or is that penii?). Presumaby a deliberate implicature created by the devilishly cunning G and G.
The colour and segmentation of image in ‘Crusade’ is, of course, reminiscent of stained glass but sadly the gallery gave no information as to why G and G had made this segmentation a motif in much of their later work, where its application was less obvious.
Nana began to consider the function and purpose of the grid and resolved to play at grid-spotting on the walk home.
In ‘Leaves’ the segmentation looked, frankly, rather trite. Though it did add depth to ‘Faith Drop’. Why oh why oh why, though, did the gallery fail to offer comment on the central gesture in Faith Drop (where G holds his thumbs and forefingers together in a triangle)? Whilst men of the cloth often use this gesture, presumably to symbolise the Holy Trinity, it also means ‘cunt’ in British Sign Language. Surely worthy of comment.
And finally to the video installation, showing three works; ‘In the Bush’,’Gin and Tonic’ and ‘A Portrait of The Artists as Young Men’. The latter struck Nana as suitable Joycean; the pared down mundanity lending itself to profundity, and the inhalations and exhalations of the soundtrack recalling the acts of birth and death.
‘In the Bush’ generated a delightful morphing effect as G and G slowly passed each other, meandering around and through the bush. Despite childhood connotations of the mulberry bush, the simple choreography of the piece variously evoked images of hens pecking outside the roost (aided by the birdsong soundtrack), primitive cave dwellers and early black and white films of anthropological studies. Both the title and the shape and scale of the bush echoed the striking image of the naked woman with bath towel used as an entrance curtain to this Summer’s exhibition at Vienna’s Secession. Both gave rise to thoughts of procreation and the vastness of progenity.
‘Gin and Tonic’ was soporific. The decadent cut glass of the English voice intoning over the piece was indeed evocative of the gentility of an afternoon Gin and Tonic. The British restraint slipping only after some time, and in a most discreet manner, as the soundtrack slowly increases its repetitions of the linguistic intensifier ‘very’.
All in all, Nana felt, a most stimulating, decadent and fertile way to pass the afternoon. And there was plenty of grid segmentation on the way home…..
Hmmm….much to work with….(results to be posted at a later date).


About nanafroufrou

Nana is currently developing two strands of creative practice; translation art ,and [w]righting. View all posts by nanafroufrou

2 responses to “Gilbert, George and Nana

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sheila sea

like thalassic velvet

Sage Brice

Formerly Jethro Brice / Socially and environmentally engaged art - developing collaborative approaches for a changeable world.


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Elan Mudrow



A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

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