The earliest photo-pictures in the exhibition—Balls (1972), Axe Bar (1973), The Glass 2 (1973)—relate to the artists’ intense bouts of drinking in the early 1970s, an essential part of their lives that they felt should not be excluded from their art. The Drinking Sculptures use fractured viewpoints and tilted angles to suggest the feeling of getting riotously wasted.

Around 1974, the artists began to make ordered rectangular grids of their imagery, a format they have followed and developed to the present day. Another innovation was the introduction of color. Having trained as sculptors, they were initially uncertain about how to use color, adding only red to their black and white compositions. “We were looking for a more powerful image. Red has more strength than black. Black and white is powerful but red on top of it is even more so. It’s louder.”

The Cherry Blossom pictures, created in 1974, show the artists lying prone or hemmed in by bamboo sticks, often surrounded by bleak images of empty city streets. The combination of red and black, arranged in powerful crosses or squares, gives these pictures a sense of coiled force, ready to break into violence. The title, according to the artists, evoked the East and the extreme discipline of martial arts. “Like a young soldier—cherry blossom is the first to appear and, sadly, the first to fall,” they explained.



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