Since their graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1990, brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman have continually pushed the envelope with their iconoclastic, ambitious sculptures. Frequently incorporating what they call “bankrupt” imagery, so frequently used by contemporary that it has lost much of its original meaning, the artists create large-scale sculptural works that have frequently drawn fierce reactions from critics and gallery visitors.
In their newest work, The End of Fun at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Chapman Brothers have continued their extreme practice, showcasing an immense tabletop expanse of miniature figurines in horrific tableaus that have already drawn the consternation of Russian law.
Depicting a series of events that blurs the line between the real and surreal, the Chapmans depict brutal war crimes, crucifixions, skeletal ranks of Nazi troops, several appearances of Ronald McDonald, and other bizarre imagery. In one scene, a group of childish Hitlers participate in painting a buxom nude model in the middle of a grisly war scene. In another, an embattled Ronald McDonald waves to viewers as he navigates shark-infested waters in a shoddy lifeboat.
Examining the nature of horror and violence, The End of Fun becomes an inquisition into the human conception of hell, displaced from any specific mooring of time or place for a broader, figurative, and much more evocative realization. As with much of the work by the Chapmans, the questions posed only become more complex with prolonged observation.
The End of Fun also features some of the Chapmans’ past work, including Traumatize, in Order to Offend, in order to Traumatize, and the Disasters of War, their first major work that recreated a number of wartime sketches by Francisco Goya.
The show is on view until January 13th.