‘The Jack Freak Pictures are amongst the most iconic, philosophically astute and visually violent works that Gilbert & George have ever created’ (M. Bracewell, Gilbert & George Jack Freak Pictures 2008, exh. cat., Arndt & Partner, Berlin 2009).
Composed of four large panels, across which Gilbert & George stand with characteristic composure in front of an East London backdrop, Jeepers Creepers is an impressive example of the artist’s Jack Freak Picture series. The largest series to be made by the artists, and the first to follow their highly acclaimed 2007 retrospective at Tate Gallery, works from the Jack Freak Pictures series powerfully question theories of nation, religion and identity. ‘We think they are the greatest group of pictures we have ever created’, the artists have asserted (Gilbert & George, quoted in A. Sooke, ‘Gilbert and George: Jack Freak Pictures’, The Telegraph, 6 July 2009 http:// www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/5709377/ Gilbert-and-George-Jack-Freak-Pictures.html [accessed 11 August 2015]). Embodying the two artist’s early maxim ‘Our lives are one big sculpture’, Jeepers Creepers is a powerful example of the two artist’s undying commitment to their work which spans a career over fifty years (Gilbert & George, quoted in, Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures 1971-1985, exh. cat., CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, 1986-87, p. x)
Gilbert & George began their artistic partnership in 1967 after meeting at St. Martin’s School of Art, where they both studied sculpture. The two men bonded over their rejection of the prevalent Minimalist and Pop movements of the 1960s. In 1969 they presented their first variation of their now iconic The Singing Sculpture, a performance in which they acted out the lyrics to the Hardy and Hudson version of Flanagan and Allan’s 1920s song ‘Underneath the Arches’. Through the decades, Gilbert & George became a cohesive unit, stating ‘We don’t think we’re two artists. We think we are an artist’ (Gilbert & George, quoted in Gilbert & George: The Rudimentary Pictures, exh. cat., Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, 1999, p. 5). In Jeepers Creepers, in keeping with works throughout their oeuvre, Gilbert & George are themselves both artist and subject.
Wearing suits emblazoned with medals and standing in mirror-like configuration, Gilbert & George look out towards the viewer with concentrated and yet impassive expressions. The deliberate lack of perfect symmetry between the artists in Jeepers Creepers resonates with the idea of difference and non-conformity within society. The complexity of the relationship between individual, society and state has continued to fascinate Gilbert & George throughout their career. Jeepers Creepers ties together these themes using the artists’ signature graphic language, while also addressing their more recent concern with the idea of a ‘man-man religion’. In Jeepers Creepers modern day society is reconstructed with carefully selected motifs, the iconic British Mini Cooper in the background, an emblem of national identity, while the title itself is a derivation of ‘Jesus Christ’. The composition is brought together by the two artists who stand as a representation of the individual within society. In this way, Jeepers Creepers is a powerful example of the two artists’ remarkable ongoing quest to capture the intensity of modern day life.