Pierre et Gilles are returning to Brussels for the first time since their spectacular 2017 retrospective at Musée d’Ixelles with their new series, Les couleurs du temps.
The works are jointly created by the two artists, Pierre as photographer and Gilles as painter. The exhibition is firmly anchored in the contemporary world, opening with a piece in homage to Ukraine, La promesse, in the war-torn country’s colours. Contrasting with the seriousness of the message, Pierre et Gilles produce a gallery of portraits that are now playful, now unsettling. References to the sacred and religious icons abound. Carefully staged and more complex than ever, the portraits feature unknown as well as familiar faces, from Tahar Rahim to Silly Boy Blue. Together the artists invent new archetypes: young apollos surrounded by pink flamingos, eroticised biblical characters, cursed lovers and nostalgic sailors.
Discreetly, almost imperceptibly, Pierre et Gilles evoke many of the questions facing society today, from sexual identity issues to the phenomena of social exclusion, religious tolerance, the war in Ukraine, global warming and pollution of the oceans. The ambiguity of their art, lying somewhere between painting and photography, illusion and realism, offers a nuanced vehicle for conveying a message of tolerance in an era torn apart by conflicts and inequalities.
Internationally renowned artists Pierre et Gilles have been producing art together since 1976. Their work has been the focus of numerous major exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris in 1996, New York’s New Museum in 2000, Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai in 2005 and Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2007. In 2017, a comprehensive retrospective entitled Clair-Obscur was held at the Brussels Musée d’Ixelles before moving to MuMa in Le Havre. In 2018, they exhibited at the K Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. In 2019, two major exhibitions, La Fabrique des idoles at the Philharmonie de Paris – Cité de la Musique, Musée de la Musique and Le goût du cinéma at the La Malmaison art centre in Cannes, met with spectacular public and critical success. In 2022, their work was the subject of the Troubled Waters exhibition at the Spritmuseum in Stockholm.