Andrew Gilbert: ‘The Glorious Opening of Emperor Andrew’s Museum’
“Andrew you shall build your Glorious Museum on piles of teeth, broken bodies and occupied land”
Holy Brocoli, Book of Murgelz, Chapter XXVII
Emperor Andrew, Andrew of Arabia, Andrew the Zulu Queen, Andrew the Last North European Genius - the universe of artist Andrew Gilbert (born 1980 Edinburgh) is so complex and inspired that to attempt to condense it into a short text borders upon blasphemy.
For his exhibition at SPERLING Munich “The Glorious Opening of Emperor Andrew’s Museum' Andrew shall, as the title suggests, build his own Museum and furthermore present through installation and sculpture the actual opening ceremony of this Museum. There shall be no “cool” Western youth D.J., no men in suit jackets and jeans emerging from the toilets rubbing their cocaine stained noses, no after show party - only discipline and prawns on toast accompanied by the sound of Onions falling from the sky as the Prophet Mugrug predicted - “As Europe descends again in to Tribal War - it shall rain Onions covered in Nails, Hallelujah”
The faded dioramas of the Rorke's Drift Military Museum, the “primitive” monument to the Zulu anti Poll Tax Rebellion/Bambatha Uprising of 1906 and the Phansi Museum in Durban - fresh inspiration from Andrew's 2017 journey to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is combined with Emperor Andrew's desire to build his own Museum. Andrew's Glorious Museum exists since many years in his mind. A home made European Ethnographic Museum, a forgotten and barely visited British Regimental Museum, the imagined Museum of a malaria ridden Colonial General - who builds his own regiments and servants from vegetables and wood, his own Idols to his own Cult and Monuments to his imagined past Glories.
As people burn to death in London in their High Rise tower the British Government poster campaign at Heathrow Airport claims that Britain is still “Great”, repeated every meter from the stinking perfume shop to the toilets. Pre Brexit newspapers market a nostalgia for the imagined past through the image of the red coat Soldier in his Tribal black fur hat , not a symbol of colonial violence, occupation and ethnic cleansing but a reassuring tourist post card. In Brandenburg Germany, petrol stations sell, next to cat themed Birthday cards anti Muslim joke cards.
Andrew’s interest (since the 1990s) in the link between advertising and propaganda remains relevant today. Along side drawings of Royal Portraits, Wives and Imperial conquest Andrew’s Museum shall display works on paper depicting imaginary supermarket products: “Leek Phone (tm)” and “celebrate Brexit in style with NEW! Chile von Carne” (here Andrew references the British eternal obsession with World War 1 as vital to the manufactured national myth in which millions died to preserve the dominance of Tribal Chiefs - from the fire of a flame thrower the viewer is informed that this is extra “HOT!” Chile).
In these drawings Andrew also parodies the cult of the Shopping Mall, European object worship and Western primitive ritual - for example: using a phone to make a “Selfie”. Andrew, in drawing and sculpture, represents this by attaching a mirror to a phone attached to a Leek - the I-phone becomes a tribal artefact clutched by drooling Western savages. “The Beast of Brexit” (2018) shows Andrew’s interest in European Christian Medieval propaganda and its relevance to now. In Medieval apocalyptic imagery, as in today’s tabloid propaganda, exotic enemies were often portrayed as precursors to the Anti Christ or as demonic brown skinned hordes from the Exotic East intent on the destruction of Western culture. Here Brexit is personified as a monstrous beast, digging its claws in to the British coast while in the foreground refugees drown in the sea. In the background “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (the disastrous and pointless charge of the British cavalry into Russian cannons in 1854 during the Crimean War) appears as a metaphor for Brexit.
My “Leek Phone (tm)” is running out of battery… Veterans, Wives, Witch Doctors and Servants shall attend this Glorious Opening.
Bring grapes and sacred Pineapple Juice (tm) for tomorrow American Drone strikes may reduce us to lumps of flesh and bone, sorry, meant to write… for tomorrow our Leek phones may run out of batteries and the museums dedicated to our Glorious past may be forgotten or looted by foreign occupiers.
Andrew's Royal secretary, General Gordon, Khartoum 1885 / Berlin 30.10.2018
Andrew Gilbert, born 1980 in Edinburgh, lives and works in Berlin. His works have been shown internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. On the occasion of a solo exhibition at the Overbeck Society (Lübeck), an extensive catalogue has recently been published by Kerber Verlag. In recent years Andrew Gilbert's work has also been shown at the Bavarian Army Museum (Ingolstadt), Tate Britain (London), blank Projects (Cape Town), Marta Herford (Herford), National Gallery Singapore and at the Saint John's Art Centre (Minnesota). Next year Andrew Gilbert will exhibit at the City Arts Centre (Edinburgh).