Briefly:: Jake or Dinos Chapman

10th August 2011

After a slightly anxious sleep in riot crazed London, I stumbled down to Hoxton Square to see the Chapman Brothers’ show ‘Jake or Dinos Chapman’ at the White Cube Gallery. My first thought was that Dinos’ and Jake’s vision was based on a clear and intelligent rendering of today’s London.

There they were; the Riot Kids dressed in black with hoodies and an obstinate posture, gathered in front of a muddy and eerie painting depicting an illustration from a twisted children’s book. When you enter the exhibition the Kids in Black are positioned in the far end of the ground-floor gallery and while approaching them, you walk past odd sculptural structures, with tribal African artifacts and numerous discolored q-tips, and big paintings suggesting the dark side of Disney. The grouped kids’ deranged faces hits you like kick in the stomach, even though you have already seen the images before coming there; they are transforming into animals. Where there should have been a school emblem, the Swastika shines with creepy splendor accompanied by the words “They Teach Us Nothing”.

While examining their faces, wondering “What happened to you? Who did this to you?” the discomfort of the viewer reaches a crescendo; they are too many and they know too much of the world already for anyone to cradle them back into the safe zone. In George Orwell’s book “1984” there was no chance to convince the screaming adrenaline monsters in the parade during Hate Week to chill out and do something more creative and productive. With a complete sense of impotence and helplessness, it is time to enter the upstairs Gallery.


“Our Father, Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil


On the second floor, the impeccably soft-skinned Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ are covered in their own blood, with faces without skin and disfiguring elements á la Cronenberg. I recalled the porcelain plate beautifully painted with a bedtime prayer which hung on the wall above my bed in a pink room full of dolls and stuffed animals and I remembered the day when I looked at it with disappointment and decided to transfer it to a box in the basement. The plate was replaced with a sexy pop-star poster. The heroes fall steadily.

“So, where do we go from here?” is the question echoing throughout the White Cube Gallery. The comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell must be applauding The Chapman Brothers from the clouds. In a mindless political climate it takes an artist to speak the ugly truth and in short this exhibition is a contemplated reflection of a messed up world at present.