Violence is lurking in the gallery and Jake and Dinos Chapman are here to reinforce that.
In a world where truths are hidden, media corrupted and images censored, nothing is quite what it seems.
British artists the Chapmans, reinvent their own scenarios and unapologetically throw them in our faces, demanding reactions and reflections.
In their new works at Blain Southern, the brother duo has reworked Goya’s etchings entitled The Disasters of War which they had previously remastered at the beginning of their career in the 1990s yet with a different title this time, The Disasters of Everyday Life. They have interfered with the original battlefields, cadavers and morbid scenes, producing a total of 240 unique pieces.
In between the massive bronze, tactical army vests, I make my way towards the frames. Each set of 80 etchings is grouped on one wall of the gallery. Contemplating the Chapmans’ work feels like watching a horror scene as a classical melody eerily plays in the background.
As much as they defend their work by owning the aggression and subversion, I find that on the contrary, they are ‘easing’ us into debauchery and grotesque. Without their intervention, would we have dared to face such incongruous scenes?
I have never encountered their work in real life before, and as my first time, mixed feelings overcome. A part of me rebels against human beings’ barbarity melded with increasing and unavoidable insurging questions whereas another part sympathizes with a society that has resigned to live in terror, in vain.
Assault, torture, skeletons, famine, kidnapping, and monsters are accompanied by stark contrast; cartoon characters, glitter and black and white collaged pop objects and people, cut from magazines.
All these enhancements transform the original content into vibrant illustrations . It is astonishing to think that so little was added and yet so much emerges. Irony, derision, cynicism all come into play at once and rattles the politically correct, preconceived ideas that art needs to disguisedly denounce and present aesthetically beautiful features.
The Chapmans present a type of artistic expression behind which we cannot hide. Even the exhibition title is explicit. It is not about them, nothing about their past, their emotions, or a collective spiritual endeavor (as the interview http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/turner-prize-2003/turner-prize-2003-artists-jake-and-dinos-chapman reveals).
The original Goya etchings date from after the Peninsula War in 1908-14 lead by Napoleon. However, t is in a different context today in which these testimonies remain relevant. Even though the Chapmans have immortalized the works from a new angle, they still generate revulsion and outrage.
As I attempt to describe the works’ features, the common thread resurfaces before I can even begin observing and detailing. More so, the army vests standing tall and proud on their pedestals exposing their grenades, are not present to admire.
Something more important than the work itself is worth making reference to . The artists seem to have created a ‘switch’ which renders any judgment of the art’s nature , obsolete. They leave those who are stuck debating the pieces, behind. The emphasis is directed on that which is critical to observe and discuss.
Whether we appreciate it or not, the Chapman’s art nourishes the mind while leaving an aftertaste of disenchantment.
The Disasters of Everyday Life – Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain Southern (4 October – 11 November 2017)