Gilbert & George – reviews of Scapegoating Pictures show

Provocative art duo's new show about paranoia, drugs and religion is 'offensive, urgent and brilliant'

Clad by Gilbert & George
(Image credit: Gilbert & George courtesy White Cube)

What you need to know

A new exhibition by artist duo Gilbert & George, Scapegoating Pictures for London, has opened at the White Cube gallery, Bermondsey. Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore, now in their seventies, are known for their provocative, photo-based artworks often featuring the artists themselves.

Scapegoating Pictures for London is a series of large-scale photo montages depicting the visual landscape of a contemporary London under the influence of technology, paranoia, fundamentalism, surveillance, multiculturalism, violence and drugs. Runs until 28 September.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

What the critics like

This new exhibition of grand, relentless photomontages restates Gilbert and George's "defiant desire to offend" and give voice to the divided reality of a country at once gloriously plural and savagely bigoted, says Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. This is art that wants you to argue with it and think about it – art that matters.

Gilbert & George have always tended toward punk shock value and "it's difficult to know whether the exhibition is truly offensive, progressive, or just anarchic", says Zoe Pilger in The Independent. Whatever their underlying agenda, these works are urgent, outrageous and brilliant.

In a truly stunning display we encounter "a wonderfully obnoxious symphony of satisfyingly gargantuan photomontages", says Culture Whisper.

Unapologetically anti-religious and unashamedly politically-incorrect, their art seeks to unsettle both the right and the left - it is a provocation and a powerful one at that.

What they don't like

You could argue that Gilbert and George are simply reflecting paranoia about Islam by visually associating images of Muslims with drug-user's nitrous oxide canisters that look like bombs, says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. But in the context of their anti-religion stance, this connection is "at best crass, at worst Islamophobic".

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.