Saturday, January 21, 2017

Art and Alcohol

The Worship of Bacchus by George Cruikshank, Balls: The Evening Before the Morning After by Gilbert & George, Art and Alcohol Exhibition, Tate Britain, Millbank, London
“The Worship of Bacchus” by George Cruikshank, 1862
“Balls: The Evening Before the Morning After” by Gilbert & George, 1972
“Art and Alcohol” Exhibition
Tate Britain, Millbank
London, September 2016

“But there's fun to be had at Art and Alcohol too, thanks largely to Gilbert and George's Balls: The Evening Before The Morning After. Composed of numerous photos (taken in what was the Balls Brothers Bar in Bethnal Green), the artists capture the essence of one of those nights that runs away with you; one drink turns to two, turns to five... you get the picture. Individually, the artists' snapshots aren't all that interesting, but squelched together into a gradually blurring montage they become intoxicating. Squint at them from the other side of the room and they almost become a big blackened liver. Facing this montage on the other side of the room is the exhibition's other blockbuster; George Cruikshank's vast canvas, The Worship of Bacchus. As if he's taken one part Gin Lane, one part Balls, then shaken vigorously with a fair few gallons of 99% abv Morality, Cruikshank runs roughshod over the Victorians' drinking habits. ‘Excitement from strong drink and drunkenness,’ said Cruikshank, ‘is, in fact, temporary insanity...’. Ironically The Worship of Bacchus verges on the insane too; kiddie-winks are fed wine (again), babies are put in mortal danger (again), people are beaten up and shot, while others — off their noggins on booze — carouse around statues of Bacchus himself.” (A Sobering Exhibition: Art And Alcohol At Tate Britain Reviewed, Londonist)

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