Exhibition at the Kröller-Müller Museum presents six triptychs by Gilbert & George

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Exhibition at the Kröller-Müller Museum presents six triptychs by Gilbert & George
Exhibition view of With Us in the Nature. Photo: Marjon Gemmeke. Kröller-Müller Museum/ © the artists.

OTTERLO.- From 16 February until 5 May, the Kröller-Müller Museum presents the exhibition With us in the nature. The title refers to the visitors’ favourite “The Paintings” (with Us in the Nature) by Gilbert & George.

The British artists Gilbert (San Martin de Tor 1943) & George (Plymouth 1942) operate as a duo. Always smartly dressed in a suit, they can be seen in performances, videos, films and artist books. Despite this diversity, they use the overarching term ‘sculpture’ for all their activities. With the necessary humour and ability to put things into perspective, they seek to merge art and life in their work and to share their insights and experiences with everyone. ‘Art for all’ is their motto.

Humankind in nature
In the early seventies, they made many drawings and one series of large paintings of themselves: “The Paintings” (with Us in the Nature). In this series of six triptychs, each of which is almost seven metres wide, they depict themselves in various poses in a lush, typically English landscape. With these impressive paintings, which were created in the winter of 1971, the artists reminisce on their stay in the countryside in the previous summer. They also provide the work with a ‘statement’: Gilbert & George invite you to look at their new, sad, beautiful sculpture’. But here the romantic experience of nature is emphasized with the necessary irony. With their attempt to recreate a lost feeling, the artists simultaneously expose the emptiness of the idea of nature as an unspoilt paradise: the landscape in which they sit, stand or stroll around is just as much made by human hands as the church, the fences and the brick walls that are visible in the landscape.

Humankind and nature
“The Paintings” (with Us in the Nature) is a popular work among the public, but it cannot be displayed very often due to its large size. After about six years it now returns, accompanied by several sculptures from the collection in which the complex relationship between humans and nature is expressed in different ways. The sculptures are by Giuseppe Penone, David Nash, Nicholas Pope, Bill Woodrow and Kazuo Kadonaga.

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