Russell and Robert meet bona fide art legends, in fact LIVING SCULPTURES, working together as the collaborative art duo GILBERT & GEORGE. They are known for their distinctive and highly formal appearance and manner in performance art, and also for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks. In 2017, the artists celebrated their 50th anniversary.

We meet them inside their new exhibition at White Cube, Mason’s Yard, London titled 'NEW NORMAL PICTURES by Gilbert & George'. This extraordinary exhibition brings together 26 pictures from a new series they have been working on for over two years and is truly BREATHTAKING!!!!

Since meeting as students in the late summer of 1967, Gilbert & George have been travelling together on a visionary and moral journey that they liken to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Their journey is made on foot, along the endless streets of London; occasionally by bus to the city’s eastern edges. It encompasses new-build developments on reclaimed and reworked land; excursions into a not-too-distant future, as disquietingly mild as it is lowering.

Gilbert & George’s NEW NORMAL PICTURES have the air, also, of temperate yet strangely intense days. In fact, the stages on a journey they seem to recount have a ‘post-everything’ air; as though they have just crossed through a fissure in time to a place that is almost but not quite familiar – a place that looks normal but is not normal, is skewed, perhaps abandoned. Gilbert & George bring worlds to life in their art that are also moods and feelings. Brute realism is infused with the vague yet precise temper of disquieting and uneasy dreams. They often use very few elements, a concentrate of concise image-subjects to create violence, drama and mystery in their pictures. Litter, railings, drug bags, shovels, spades and old trinkets become like a ‘palette’ as if primal images that do the work of primary colours. In these pictures there are no ambiguous shades, no finesse or subtlety softens their bleak urban other-worldliness.

The NEW NORMAL PICTURES suggest that the old punk adage ‘the day the world turned Day-Glo’ has come to life. Everywhere is dark yet too bright, tonal contrasts go to war with one another. In streets, alleys and vistas, the unreal city seems to rearrange time and tenses, accelerating the slow and stalling the immediate. The overlooked and thrown away reacquires visibility and meaning. The usual hierarchies reverse; discard dominates.

GILBERT & GEORGE's new solo show runs in London until 8th May 2021 at White Cube, Mason's Yard. Follow @WhiteCube on Instagram. View exhibition views at White Cube's website: A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by writer and novelist Michael Bracewell, as well as four signed posters designed by the artist, are available to coincide with the exhibition. 

For images of all artworks discussed in this episode visit @TalkArt. Talk Art theme music by Jack Northover @JackNorthoverMusic courtesy of We've just joined Twitter too @TalkArt. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. For all requests, please email

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