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The artists believe that everything is potential subject matter for their art, and they have always addressed social issues, taboos and artistic conventions. Implicit in their art is the idea that an artist’s sacrifice and personal investment is a necessary condition of art. They have depicted themselves as naked figures in their own pictures, recasting the male nude as something vulnerable and fragile rather than as a potent figure of strength. The backdrop and inspiration for much of their art is the East End of London where Gilbert & George have lived and created art for nearly 50 years. From street signs to Ginkgo trees, from chewing gum stains on the pavements to vistas of urban grandeur and decay, their work is both an ongoing portrait of a city and a reflection on the human condition. Gilbert & George have confronted many of the fundamental issues of existence: sex, religion, corruption, violence, hope, fear, racial tension, patriotism, addiction and death.