November 27 - January 28, 2010
Wonderful Town
galerie jerome de noirmont

Un autre matin, 2008 Wonderful Town series model : Roberto Magalhaes Unique hand-painted photograph pigment print on canvas Framed by the artists 130 x 162 cm with frame: 137,8 x 169,8 cm

exhibition release




            For the first time since 1998, when they held their first exhibition at the gallery, although they have shown their new creations there 4 times since then, from November 27th to January 23rd Pierre et Gilles will be unveiling their latest works which, this time, were all achieved between 2007 and 2009 as part of a single series entitled Wonderful Town.


            Wonderful Town is one of those towns you can find anywhere in the world… It’s a modern town with no past, an industrial town”.

The idea for Wonderful Town came about when Pierre et Gilles got back from a journey to Japan, a country they know well having visited it a number of times over the last twenty years. A country where the towns and cities have lost their humanity and, as a result, city-dwellers feel the need to invent dreams, fantasies and acts of folly to escape from the harshness of reality.


In Wonderful Town, people’s dreams invade the city which is no longer a utopia and has instead morphed into a strange kind of reality, symbolised by cranes and worksite machinery, factories, cubic buildings, scraps of cars and heaps of rubbish; all the people here have to invent their own worlds where everything becomes possible.


            Everyone can imagine Wonderful Town in any way one likes. It is a bit like a film: an imaginary world where there are lots of things going on - some happy, some sad - where all kinds of fantasies - whether they are dream-like, gentle or violent - are expressed. You can see the whole of our world in these works which can be seen as apparitions: religious portraits, portraits of sailors, of urban characters, of soldiers, of women…”


The primary sources for Pierre et Gilles’ creation are to be found in History of Art, especially painting, popular imagery and in the world of cinema, although sometimes also in the world of music and entertainment. Undoubtedly in this series, cinema is their main source of inspiration, not so much the movies themselves – although some titles are highly evocative (Les Temps Modernes, 2008), but through its status as a “dream factory”, where all kinds of dreams – happy or funny ones, and even nightmares – can be expressed with total freedom.


As in cinema, Wonderful Town is a series in which the artists felt totally free, as its theme does not impose any constraint, thus allowing them to tackle all of the characters like a huge film set offering maximum freedom in terms of composition.


A few of the characters from the exclusive world of Wonderful Town within which Pierre et Gilles have created almost all of their works for the last 3 years have already been unveiled to us as part of major exhibitions held at museums or institutions, giving us a first glimpse of the many different facets of this world.


The sailors in Full Moon (2007) and Bare Capture (2008) as well as the new artists’ self-portrait in Toys (2007) first appeared amongst others in the personal exhibition devoted to Pierre et Gilles as part of the new Prospect 1 New Orleans biennial on the initiative of its director Dan Cameron. The works Toutes les Femmes ont un Secret and De l’autre côté de l’amour (2008), with Sylvie Vartan as the model, were created at the occasion of the Pierre et Gilles retrospective at the Sofia Art Gallery museum in Bulgaria in May – June 2008, whereas Bloody Amélie (2008) portrayed Amélie Nothomb on the cover of her latest novel “Le Fait du Prince”, published in September 2008.


La Vierge à l’Enfant (2009), just one of a number of religious subjects in the series, was designed to be exhibited in the chapel of the baptistry of the Église Saint-Eustache in Paris during La Force de l’Art 02 in April – May, as part of an installation designed by the artists, where metal scaffolding tubes and road signs were used to extend and magnify the setting for the work.


Alongside dark visions such as Saint-Sébastien de la Guerre (2009) or Le Garçon au lance-pierre (2009) lost in this industrial world, emerges the wonderful, the fantastic… “Just like the Virgin Mary who always appears in the poorest places, the best dreams arise out of the darkest places, wherever there is hardship and suffering; the best things always spring up where we do not expect them”. It is Un Monde Merveilleux (2008) with a fantastical character represented by M - Mathieu Chedid sitting enthroned on a heap of old toys; it also Le Petit Footballeur (2009) or Muscle Lady (2008), whose cheerful characters appear to be posing in shop windows, or Le Chant des Cygnes (2008) whose model’s is enduring an agony full of irony…


More than ever, this new Wonderful Town series, whose title as conceived by the artists forms an oxymoron, reflects the whole of the paradox inherent in the work of Pierre et Gilles, at the same time mixing contemporary vision with classical composition, accurate and respectful depiction with impertinent and humorous one, magic with darkness, and which always considers all of the models – whether they are famous or anonymous – to be equal… The universal scope of the message which the artists deliver through their work becomes even stronger in this group of works.


The fully-realized world of Wonderful Town also allows us to measure the development of Pierre et Gilles’s specific technique, who are now able to create their hand-painted photographs directly on canvas using the new imaging technologies, and who produce increasingly complex scenes thanks to their fully-harnessed talent to transform simple accessories and artifices into highly colourful settings… Even though their works are directly descended from the history of the art of the portrait, following the conventional rules of showing the subject depicted to the best possible advantage, they are now more like genuine paintings, in other words complex pictorial compositions which have an obvious narrative value and which goes far beyond a mere figurative depiction.