We want Our Art to speak across the barriers of knowledge directly to the People about their Life and not about their knowledge of art. The 20th century has been cursed with an art that cannot be understood. The decadent artists stand for themselves and their chosen few, laughing at and dismissing the normal outsider. We say that puzzling, obscure and form-obsessed art is decadent and a cruel denial of the Life of the People.
Gilbert and George quoted in Carter Ratcliff, ed., Gilbert and George: The Complete Pictures 1971-1985, New York, p. VII
Executed in 1986, the year in which they won the prestigious Turner Prize, Hope Rising addresses ontological questions in much the same manner as the duo's earlier four-part photo-piece, Death, Hope, Life, Fear of 1984. Extending the powerful visual vocabulary of these earlier pictures, the present work is an immense tapestry of self-portraits, enlarged body parts and allusive imagery of fruits and flowers that rapidly disintegrate into an effusion of color partitioned by their trademark grid of rectangular black frames. As in their standard practice, the work assumes a larger-than-life, near cinematic format, which is made all the more striking by the jarring dislocations in scale.
Hope Rising, an iconic image that captures Gilbert and George's signature style, is captivating in its blend of formal beauty and loaded content. Combing a mélange of disparate images, dislocating scales and jarring contrasts this unsettling images is nonetheless brilliantly held together in a tight, symmetrical composition. Opening itself to a multiplicity of associations, Hope Rising asks more questions than it answers. In doing so, it evokes the fundamental premise of human existence.