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Pierre and Gilles
Double Je (1976 - 2007)
Jade Lobato de Faria, July 30, 2007
Pierre and Gilles_Le petit communiste, 1990_Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont_Paris
Pierre and Gilles_Le petit communiste, 1990_Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont_Paris
 
Usually, a single figure is blazoned across their images, the exception being combatants bonded by battle, united lovers and the couple formed by Pierre et Gilles themselves - as, for example, in Les Jardins du Paradis, Adam et Ève, Les Amants criminels, Les Cosmonautes and Les Mariés. The finish of Pierre et Gilles' portraits, too, is immutable: there have been no significant changes in three decades of indefatigable work or in any of the seven hundred-odd pieces thus produced.

With the exception of the very occasional realist portrait (Les enfants des voyages photographed in the Maldives in 1982), the typical Pierre et Gilles portrait is arranged and staged. The subject is dressed up and disguised, wearing not his or her own clothes or status but those of another, be it a figure from classical mythology (Ganymède, Mercure, Méduse, etc.) or religious history (Saint Sébastien, Sainte Monique et Saint Augustin, Bouddha), a sailor, a thug or a femme fatale, a hero from cinema (Anakin Skywalker) or literature (Le Capitaine Nemo, Le Dahlia noir), or a ruler (Le Jeune Pharaon), or perhaps an allegory of something (La Mort, L'Innocence). The artists are utterly relaxed about building their canon around borrowings from popular art forms, poster imagery and the Parisian folklore of street urchins and rascals, but also from fashion imagery, which is invoked and used to saturation point, and also, finally, the world of the soft-porn gay pinup, half-way between glamour and the more hardcore style of Tom of Finland. (…)


Pierre and Gilles_Dans le port du Havre, 1998_Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont_Paris
Pierre and Gilles_Dans le port du Havre, 1998_Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont_Paris
 
Every one of Pierre et Gilles' images is the joint expression of an affirmation and a doubt. What are they about? Man in general, men in particular; your average model, his or her personal fantasies, perhaps tacitly confessed by the nature of their disguise? Between Pop poster and holy icon for the mantelpiece, the portraits fashioned by Pierre et Gilles operate halfway between identification and parable. The models who pose for the artists are usually named in the title and can thus be identified. Disguise and make-up at the same time endow them with a new identity that is theirs and not theirs, that removes their reality and propels them into the domain of mythic figures. (…)

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