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Gilbert & George | Great Britain

Jackland, 2008

Mixed media
378x254 cm

Courtesy of Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris – Salzburg

Gilbert & George’s works can be identified from a distance, thanks to their compositions and lively coloration, the duplicated duality of their images, and the vitrage-like monumentality of their sizes.

Since they started working together in 1967, Gilbert & George express in their works themes relating to human existence by using duplicated symbols and forms, interspersed with texts appropriated from advertising.

We should not confuse the supposedly balanced compositions serving as the basis for the geometric structure and the symmetrical order characterizing their work. These entail criticism on long-gone national values, a tradition and a rich and spiritual interior world that has been affected by the new human landscape, and is now gone, its place taken up by other, foreign cultures and ideologies.

In the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore we found the expression “Jack Land,” meaning an uninhabited, unworked area, a no man’s land existing in the fog of superstition and irrationality.

Jackland is a work from the series Jack Freak, based on symbols, cameos, trees, the London street map, and the national flag, all of which join together to form one narrative. Jackland is a meeting with an experience of fear and aggressiveness, where the local landscape is occupied by figures of pagan tribes coming to it from another planet.

It is a relevant description of the feeling of intrusion into British culture and tradition, a tradition that was kept throughout modern history, but is now threatening to disappear. It is an expression of public fear, which characterizes today’s England and Europe in general.