Sometimes life really does seem to imitate art. When Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeared for that first joint press conference last May, more than one sketch writer came up with the same comparison: Gilbert & George.
What’s more, G&G noticed too. “It was very amusing. We were flattered, of course,” says George in an interview at their new exhibition “The Urethra Postcard Pictures” in White Cube, Mason’s Yard, London. “It was like a marriage,” adds Gilbert. G&G themselves contracted a civil partnership in 2008, after four decades of life together as a single artistic personality.
Like G&G, Cameron & Clegg often wear coordinated, though not identical suits (the former were sporting brown and green versions of the same natty tweed on the day we talked). G&G always have claimed to be two men, but one artist. Now we in Britain have government by two parties with — more or less — a single set of policies. Are G&G supporters?
In the past, they professed loyalty to the Conservative Party, especially under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher (it was, among other things, a good way to rebel against the left- leaning art world). Do they now support the coalition?
“Oh, yes,” they say in chorus. Both parties equally? “We have to be fair,” George states firmly. “We think they are doing a good job under very difficult circumstances.”
“We were brought up with the motto: Neither a lender nor a borrower be,” says George. “We never borrow money,” Gilbert chimes in. As so often with G&G, there’s a twist to this thought. “They have made cuts, but we say they should only be in Labour constituencies, because Labour incurred the debt. Fair’s fair.”