Artist duo Gilbert & George were invited to create a new series of works for the British Pavilion exhibition in 2005. Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore have collaborated since meeting at art school in 1967 and always exhibit using the name Gilbert & George. Despite their formal appearance, always dressed smartly in suits, their works have often courted controversy because of their political or sexual themes.
For their exhibition at the Biennale, Gilbert & George created a completely new group of large 25 pictures using an advanced computer technology that they had spent two years perfecting.
Entitled Ginkgo Pictures, the new works used leaves from Ginkgo biloba trees collected from a park in New York as both a point of departure and recurring motif. This particular species of tree, Ginkgo, was carefully selected as it is no longer rare and the trees can nowadays be found in avenues, parks and even in the streets close Gilbert & George’s home in east London.
Ginkgo is revered in the Far East, where it is associated with longevity and reputed to have miraculous powers. These extraordinary properties act as a metaphor for the spirit that runs throughout the 25 pictures. The predominance of the rich golden yellow in many of the pictures is synonymous with the colour the leaves turn in the autumn months.
Gilbert & George’s Pavilion installation featured some recurring themes that make their work and visual languge so distinctive: symmetry, mirroring, bold colours and large grids.