Gilbert Proush and George Passmore, two artists from London’s East End, are making an effort to promote their work while they are still alive to see it, unlike many artists who never lived to see their fame.
“Gilbert & George were among artists creating alternatives to traditional painting. They poke fun at proper behavior in a deadpan fashion and include references to drunkenness and sexuality,” according to the Museum of Modern Art.
“We felt we were alone,” Gilbert said in an interview with the Associated Press. “We have never been part of an art group, never been art groupies. We kept ourselves outside.”
“We’re always being stopped on the streets of London by young people who say, ‘I love your art,’” George said to the Associated Press. “But they’d never seen an exhibition. They saw a catalogue in a house or a magazine. So, we thought, if there is a place where you can have pictures permanently on show, it would be fantastic.”
The duo created that exhibit for themselves, self-funding a gallery of their art in Spitalfields, a neighborhood in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
The exhibition is run out of an old brewery, and entry will be free. The gallery is titled “The Gilbert and George Centre.”
Sophomore Marissa Mele, a graphic design major who has been featured several times in Sacred Heart’s Art & Design Gallery, spoke about the importance of artists having an outlet for their work.
“Galleries are really exciting, honestly,” said Mele. “To know people are going to see it. Everyone loves getting appreciation, especially from a non-artistic eye, it’s really nice to get validation. Having your work up somewhere, it proves to you that you’re good enough. Sometimes it’s hard to validate yourself like that.”
Speaking with the Associated Press, George added that the pair want to make art for “the people, not for collectors.” That is why free admission into their gallery is so important.
“I always have respect for people who just want to make their art and give people the opportunity to see their passion,” said sophomore Joe Dunn, a poet and actor at Sacred Heart.
“I think it’s really great,” said Mele. “There is so much art, and not enough places to show it; not enough slots to get in.”
As a freshman, Mele submitted three pieces to the Art & Design Gallery, winning in the Foundational category. This year, Mele had five pieces showcased in the Gallery, winning the top prize for a portrait of actor and comedian Robin Williams.
“I love talking about my art,” Mele said. “Sometimes I look at it and I don’t know if it looks good, because I’m just seeing how I drew it, not ‘it’ itself. It’s hard not to love people throwing a compliment your way.”
Gilbert and George’s self-funded exhibit, which Reuters reports is being “run as a registered charity,” was a way to give the duo’s fans a place to see their work in a designated place, a way for their work to be celebrated when they are still around to witness it.
“Look at Van Gogh,” said Mele. “He was incredible, and now everyone knows him and he didn’t see a lick of it in his wonderful life. It kind of shows where the value of art really is: when you can’t get it anymore. There’s not as much value in the art itself, but once it’s limited, everyone grabs for it.”
“The Paradiscal Papers,” Gilbert and George’s inaugural exhibition at “The Gilbert and George Centre,” opened to the public on April 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.