Gillie and Marc: Love the Last Exhibition
Gillie and Marc, Love the Last Exhibition
According to the Gallery Salamanca, Gillie and Marc are a husband and wife contemporary artists who collaborate to create art as one, applying their iconic imagery of the dog/human hybrid to celebrate the powerful spiritual relationship that exists between man and animal.
Gillie and Marc reference their own remarkable love story in their works perpetuating a pursuit of happiness and encouraging us to challenge the status quo and the perceived safety of societal convention.
Gillie and Marc first met in Hong Kong. Gillie was a nurse from England and Marc was from Melbourne. Instantly they realized they’d found their soulmate, someone to start a journey encompassing their mutual love for art and adventure. Seven days later they married in the foothills of Mount Everest. They not only share an unsurpassed dedication to their art but also for their love of their two children. Gillie and Marc have a history of 20 years collaboration and have received acclaim worldwide with many of their works of art held in collections across the nation and globally too.
The Works of Art
A set of nine paintings enamel and acrylic painted onto board, eight of which are 120cm by 90cm and one 120 by 120cm. The paintings formed an exhibition titled ‘Love the Last Exhibition’ by artists Gillie and Marc. The works of art depict a variety of wild animals and their trademark dog and rabbit characters in known locations like New York, London and Sydney. The pictures show the wildlife in unusual positions, almost circus like as with ‘They Were on top of Nyc’. In ‘He loved New York and New York loved him’ the gorilla embraces the Empire State Building. Perhaps in parody to the King Kong films of the 20th Century. ‘Lewis in Sydney in Red’ is particularly poignant as it depicts a koala bear with bandaged limbs sitting on a tree stump. This particular character made headlines when it was chosen as a sculptural form for a gift to Parliament House, Canberra and was initially rejected. The character represents a wildlife victim of some of Australia’s worst bushfires in history.
Two pictures focus just on the wildlife such as ‘Hippos are some of our favourite things’ and ‘Pandas are some of our favourite things.’ An underlying message seems to be the fragility of our wildlife. This is underlined by the subject of the last two images. The first, ‘They thought amazing things were about to happen’ depicts the two trademark characters of a dog headed and rabbit headed man and woman on the back of a zebra galloping off. The second, ‘They all left together towards a better future’ provides social commentary on society, environmentalism and a sense of optimism. This is more so in the light of how wildlife have re-emerged in the light of the global pandemic, Corona virus.
The bronze sculpture of a rabbit-headed woman sitting cross legged sitting with a cup of coffee is a later addition to the gift of paintings. The sculpture is of one of their iconic characters. The coffee cup -figure may provide a statement to ‘take time out’. Something we can all do with.
The works are a very welcome addition to the University of Canberra as until this generous donation, Gillie and Marc have not been represented in its Art Collection. The works themselves fit in well with the post-modern and contemporary nature of the University’s Art Collection by providing inspiration to our Faculty of Art students; a riot of colour to enliven the University; provide up-to-date social commentary on current affairs and bring the contemporary nature of the University’s Art Collection up to date.
Gillie and Marc attracted some controversy and criticism with some of their sculptures in recent times. A large sculpture commissioned by New York City of a dogman holding an apple as part of the 'travel anywhere' art project attracted criticism from local Chinese artists since the sculpture was going to be placed near an arch commemorating many of the fallen who had fought during World War Two. “This insulting image of a ‘Dog-Man’ has no place next to this sacred and solemn community site where we honor our community heroes.” This shows how very often, artist, community and curator need to work closely for the best outcome. We don't always get it right.
LIkewise, Gillie and Marc's art has attracted ciriticism from the art-world that their forms of art are impossibly tedious and gimmicky (according to John McDonald). However, in defence of popular art, Marc Schattner responds by remarking that we want to make art that makes people smile. Much like the popular forms of art such as Jack Vettriano, I find that there's plenty of room in the art market. What Gillie and Marc are trying to do is creating art-forms that reach out, make statements and please the eye.
For more information about GIllie and Marc and their influences, see the interview in the Zanui Editorial blog. Well worth reading:
Gillie and Marc: Art Controversy: https://gillieandmarc.com/blogs/news/dogman-sculpture-stirs-controversy-in-chinatown
New York Times, Art and Design, Paparazi Dogs and Rabbit Girl Conquered New York Streets, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/arts/design/gillie-marc-schattner-sydney-australia-art-paparazzi-dogs.html