Currently at Hong Kong’s White Cube, British artists Jake & Dinos Chapman are exhibited The Sum of All Evil, the artists’ first in China, including a group of lurid, bizarre dioramas alongside their familiar series of “reworked paintings.”
The Brothers Chapman are known for their humorous explorations of stereotype and iconography, examining the cultural weight and significance of various objects and images. As they themselves describe, they are interested in “how and whether we are allowed, or able, to show moral views.” Accordingly, The Sum of All Evil mixes symbols found in popular culture with traditional painting techniques, in order to challenge conventional views of contemporary images related to consumerism. McDonald’s, Hitler, The Flintstones, Nike and the American moon landing are all given their turn, providing a point of focus that allows the viewer to examine the assumptions and impressions conjured by their presence.
The diorama section of the exhibition is the 4th in a series of installations by the Chapmans collectively entitled Hell. In The Sum of All Evil, the diorama installations are extremely detailed and large in scale, depicting an apocalyptic scene in which Nazi soldiers and characters from McDonald’s commit acts of violence and depravity. The vitrines include images such as a burned McDonald’s restaurant, and a Ronald McDonald figure as a “melancholic fisherman on a crumbly jetty” floating on a lake filled with dead naked bodies. The effect is chilling and comic in equal measure, challenging the viewer to reexamine the significance of these figures in the context of broader society.
The exhibition also includes a series of works conceptually inspired by themes of defacement, hierarchy, value, and context. These collage-style works are paintings originally created by “unknown artists,” which the Chapmans have “found, reworked, and improved.” Playing at the ideas of authenticity and creativity, the works take a perverse joy in the destruction of prior meaning in the pieces on view.
Bringing their bizarre sense of humor to bear on the phantasm of global mass culture, The Brothers Chapman use their work to explore the fading images of the 20th century, as new challenges and symbols rise up to meet them. The Sum of All Evil opened on May 22nd and will continue through August 31, 2013.
Jake & Dinos Chapman, The Sum of All Evil (Installation View), courtesy White Cube Hong Kong
Exhibition Page [White Cube Hong Kong]