Pierre Et Gilles : Clair-obscur

16 Feb 2017 – 14 May 2017

Musée d'Ixelles

Bruxelles, Belgium


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Pierre et Gilles embody a highly sophisticated art of the portrait, somewhere between photography and painting. They infuse a touch of humanity to the artificial beauty of celebrity, glorify ordinary people and enchant the world with superheroes plucked from mythology, the Bible and fairy tales.


Nourished by art, film and all forms of popular culture, these painted images fit perfectly into the contemporary world.

Few artists are resistant to the test of time. The longevity of Pierre et Gilles on the stage of contemporary creation is exemplary, with a forty-year career nourished by artistic and sentimental complicity.  Undoubtedly this is founded on, above all, the sincerity and generosity of the artistic process that has driven them since their beginnings – to honour, glorify and even deify the Human, to extirpate it from villainy, to save it from turpitude and provide a flamboyant world for it to inhabit.

This re-enchantment does not, however, take place by a simplistic dissolution of our world and the naive construction of another dreamed-up world. It arrives by a rather more subtle and clear-sighted balance of these two polarities, as Pierre et Gilles propose a new order, a kind of haunting and comforting alternative to insignificance and even mediocrity.  Pierre et Gilles work is constructed by the accomplishment of a skilful equation via the objective of Pierre and the brushwork of Gilles.  Portraits can be as seductive as they are repulsive, as licentious as they are modest, as well as current. They can be funny yet serious, candid and defiant, as authentic as they are unreal.  Thus the artists succeed in creating the most just and universal homage to the Human, who is as brilliant as s/he is mediocre.

Through iconographic profusion, a wealth of possible approaches and powerful aesthetic harmony, the work of Pierre et Gilles has legitimately fascinated a wide audience for several decades already. However, the exhibition presented at the Museum of Ixelles (Brussels), then at the MuMa (Le Havre), as well as the exhibition catalogue, aims to offer new ways of understanding this duo’s work as unclassifiable as it is unavoidable.

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