23 January 2016

The White Cube in Bermondsey disappoints

In looking to see how to get to the Fashion and Textile Museum I discovered that it was in the same street (Bermondsey Street), and was very close to, the White Cube gallery and so it made sense when planning the day to allow time to go to both.

I had heard of the White Cube but had never been there before, though I had been to its smaller cousin in Mason's Yard, St James and had been impressed by that so was looking forward to going to see the larger original. I was made even keener when the Art Fund app told me that it was the biggest commercial arts space in Europe which conjured visions of something even bigger and even better than the Saatchi Gallery, which I love.

Checking the gallery's website on the morning I learned that it was the last day of the Gilbert and George The Banners exhibition, which I had heard them talking about a few weeks previously on the magnificent podcast of the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London.

I am not a massive fan of Gilbert and George's work but then I had only seen the odd example of it, such as one work at the Tate Modern and another in Cologne. Still, it was a good enough reason to go to the gallery.

The Banners were displayed in the White Cube itself, a gallery measuring 9m by 9m by 9m and called, imaginatively, 9x9x9. They were simple slogans written on what looked something like street signs with "Gilbert and George say:" at the top rather than the Borough name.

The slogans were first written in pencil and then gone over with ink. There were ten different slogans and several posters with the same slogan but all painted individually and so all original. I have no idea what they were selling for but signed prints were £10 each, though you can pay £50 for one on eBay if you are a mug.

I must admit that I could not see the point and The Banners did nothing for me.

There were two other gallery spaces, both of which were quite large and had interior partial walls to make for even more hanging space, unlike Saatchi which uses just the main walls. I prefer the Saatchi approach as the sense of the large open spaces is part of my enjoyment of the experience.

I prefer the art that I have sen at the Saatchi too. There were a couple of pieces that I quite liked, and some that I liked a lot, but not enough of them to make me think that I need to get back to the White Cube any time soon, though I will pop-in next time I am in the area, it is free to go in after all.

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