Gilbert & George: The Urethra Postcard Art @ White Cube

Nearly four decades since the first exhibition of Postcard Art, Gilbert & George return with an enormous show of 155 new pieces (part of a bigger group of 564 works) that form ‘The Urethra Postcard Art’.

The two artists using commercial images and texts printed on postcards and telephone box flyers created a series of controversial works that depict a sample of today’s society and modern urban world filtered with a shocking and raw sense of humour that hits the viewer merciless and almost immediately. This collage of pictures combines an image of London that a tourist has a in mind (including its famous landmarks and sites) with what lies beneath its surface; an image of the city’s real life as seen through newspaper ads, telephone box sex flyers and other darker sides of the human need.

For the untrained eye, each work consists of 12 postcards placed in a rectangular shape with a 13th one placed in the middle. Using this formation the two artists symbolise the shape of a urethra, symbol that was once used by theosophist C. W Leadbetter to accompany his signature. This symbol enhances the avant-garde and libertarian mood of these works and their extreme language.

Gilbert & George using everyday images so simple to the eye and words or descriptions to associate them, successfully achieved to challenge religion, social identity, traditionalism and human mortality to the highest degree. A viewer smiles, laughs or feels uncomfortable when they look or read every individual piece; it all depends on your outlook of life, your tolerance towards a society that is not as beautiful as you thought, you let the force of the exhibition guide you around or you simply despise and disregard its symbols and simply admire the sights.
|Kostas Prapoglou