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, Nicholas Pope, Bill Woodrow and Kazuo Kadonaga.

Images: Gilbert & George, "The Paintings" (with Us in the Nature), 1971 - detail; Giuseppe Penone, Sentiero, 1983-1984; Kazuo Kadonaga, Wood No. 5 R, 1978 / Wood No. 11 M, 1981; Nicholas Pope, Odd elms, 1981 / Yoo hoo, 1981; Bill Woodrow, Albero e ucello, 1983.