Jake and Dino Chapman are currently presenting Chicken, their first solo show in the Ukraine, at the Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev. The exhibition is centered around a new installation, titled The Sum of all Evil (2013), that confronts violence, death and the Holocaust through a series of comically perverse tableaus. Additional works from the Chapman brother’s oevre are also on display, providing an artistic context to the brothers subversive black humor and embrace of taboo subject matter.
The installation, produced by the Pinchuk Art Centre, consists of four encased dioramas, each miniature scene working to create a monumental landscape. Keeping with the artists’ typically provocative nature, one diorama confronts the discovery of Babi Yar, a Ukranian mass grave where Nazi’s murdered 30,000 Jews in just two days.
Other references that appear in the installation tend more towards the lineage of art history, with links to paintings such as Hieronymus Bosch’s The Apocalypse, and the etchings of Francisco de Goya. McDonald’s characters, a frequent trope in the duo’s work, are also present, used as a device to “ruin the notion that the work has any definitive historical truth”.
Goya has continuously inspired the Chapman brothers, and his influence is present in other works in the show, such as Sex I (2003), alluding to Goya’s Great Deeds Against the Dead. In the Chapman brothers’ version, the scene emphasizes the state of decay at play on the body wracked against a tree. Either heightening the grotesque or adding a lightness to the harsh reality, clown noses and devil’s horn and ears disrupt the solemnity of the painted bronze sculpture.
Goya’s works are also featured in the brothers’ series From the Blackened Beyond (2011), where they reworked the full collection of his Disaster of War etchings. Also on display are Bronze sculptures from The Chapman Family Collection, which takes tribal masks and fetish objects as its point of reference, and incorporate further imagery from McDonald’s to pervert their original meanings.
Lastly, a tongue-in-cheek review of the Chapman’s sculptural work until 2009 is offered through cardboard replicas of their iconic originals, taking the apt title Shitrospective. Despite their change in scale, the works manage to retain their original impact while making the works’ dark humor and playfulness more accessible. Commenting on notions of process and consumption, the new works challenge ideas of authenticity and originality while offering a striking stand-in for the Chapmans’ original pieces.
Often written off as patently offensive, the works of Jake and Dino Chapman tackle the horrors of the modern world, including those created by war and globalization. The artists dive head first into controversial subjects, infusing them with their unique sense of humor and wit.
Born in 1966 and 1962 respectively, Jake and Dino Chapman have been working together since graduating in 1990 from the Royal College of Art, London. They have exhibited extensively with solo shows at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Tate Britain and the Tate Liverpool and MOMA’s P.S 1 Contemporary Art Center. In November of 2013 the brothers will have a solo show at the Rudolfinum, Prague. Their current show closes on April 21st.