Friday, 16 September 2011

The Chapman Brothers, Jake or Dinos, White Cube

I don’t know much about the Chapman Brothers, Jake and Dinos, in fact, much as a lot of my blogs are about art, I don’t know much about art at all, beyond some rudimentary knowledge and the occasional blag. So, you are very welcome to join me on this journey of discovery as I apply my own (no doubt hideous) interpretations of peoples work as I explore this wonderful subject over the coming blogs.
What I lack in knowledge, I will make up for in enthusiasm however. When I win the lottery, I’ll sign up to an art history degree and be an earthy grounded gor-blimey mature student, doing some Dick Van Dyke tap dancing shit, whilst my posh course mates steer well clear.
So anyway, the Chapman Brothers. I knew the following prior to attending the exhibition-
1) They are of Cypriot heritage (like me)
2) Therefore they are bald (I checked, they are)
3) They are controversial, I vaguely remember their plastic dolls fused together, quite horrific images, which appealed to me at the time, but I probably went back to playing Football Manager and didn’t go to see the exhibition
4) Something about a scary fairy tale based (and let’s be clear – proper fairy tales are horrific and bloody) childrens colouring in book (subsequently found out it’s a dot to dot, but the colouring in book may also exist)
5) That’s it
So, on a whim I decided to visit the White Cube gallery today, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, which will be the subject of another blog.
There are two White Cube galleries, one in Mason’s Yard near Green Park in London and one in Hoxton. I only visited the Mason’s Yard one today, but I’ve included pics from both, mainly drawn from the Guardian, but also from another website, I would credit, but I can’t find the link now, all I will say is, they aren’t mine and if this blog ever extends beyond seven followers, then I apologise to whoever took the photo!
The “shock factor” from the exhibition involved Nazi imagery, but it was pushed to extreme boundaries of ridiculousness, it made the imagery farcical. Not sure if that was the point, the shock, combined with a vague slapstick amusement, but that’s what I got from this exhibition.
Yes. The Nazi Zombies and I use this term lazily as equally they might be hideously burnt, disfigured or mutated Nazis, are creepy, the first thing that greets you as you walk down the stairs into the basement gallery is one of them staring at you, in his Hugo Boss Waffen SS uniform. Really, it did shock me. I stopped dead in my tracks. Bang! It was instantly unsettling. An art smack down. This was the only photo I took, as photos aren’t allowed.

However, the poses they are in (two are in the process of having sex), the insignia (a smiley face armband instead of a swastika) and the scenarios they are put in (one nazi is sitting under a stuffed pigeon which occasionally “shits” on him) balances things out.
The following video summarises things nicely -
Dinos - “If they say it’s wonderfully offensive then that’s good, if they say it’s horribly offensive then..” (shrug)
Jake - “We’re not bothered by what people think… apart from our mother” (both laugh)
I also like they are belligerent socialists at heart, who want art to be available to all students, whatever their background, not just for the privileged few.
All pics courtesy of the guardian I think, if not…my bad!

Yes, they are getting it on in this pic (tee hee)

Round the corner from the Nazi’s, in a darkened room, is another man sized figure of the same material/ilk, this time in a big KKK hood. He was quite scary. In front of him was a painting, a hellish image of the crucifixion, Christ and the two criminals on their crosses with a crowd under them. Initially I thought, this looks like a Brueghel or Bosch, as the figures were all vaguely distorted or utterly warped in animalistic forms. But I though, oh, it can’t be, Christ himself has tentacles coming out of his face for instance, someone was trying to climb out of a horses bum and someone else was smoking a fag in the painting! The animalistic forms of the people was not a surprise for those two artists, but they’d have never messed with the image of Jesus. I assumed one of the Chapman brothers had painted an original in that style.
As you have to lean forward to examine it as the light is poor, the KKK man is looming behind you. What I didn’t realise is he had a massive hardon bulging his trousers outward, so whilst you are leaning over to look at the painting, you are faintly aware of a large cock hovering by your butt. It amused me greatly when I finally saw it! So again, unsettling imagery / comedy. It’s shocking but great too. His “bulge” is not visible in this photo but it gives you an idea of the space you have to squeeze into and lean over to look at the painting.

Anyway, a bit of research and I found out that Brueghel, or rather one of his followers *had* painted it and one of the brothers had then proceeded to add to it. Some would say this is defacement, but considering this has now sold for £750k (KKK hardon man thrown in) compared to the €220k they originally paid for it… it challenges perceptions and the value of art. Full story as relayed by the Telegraph here (and remember it is the Telegraph so it does have a sober disappointment running through the article and the comments are just typical Telegraph…..)
What I missed had I gone to the Hoxton White Cube, the other half of the exhibition.
You are fucking kidding me!

No, there’s more of them.

And finally.

It finishes tomorrow, next time I’ll pay more attention and definitely go to a Chapman brothers exhibition early!

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