Jake and Dinos Chapman – at the White Cube

Arriving when the beer has run out is never a good thing, but I was there for the art so I was not disappointed.

What is it with Jake and Dinos Chapman? They like it right on the edge of obscene, bordering on something they should be sectioned for.

Hung on the white walls of the White Cube Gallery, Mason’s Yard, are gloomy Victorian portrait-paintings, bought from junkyards, one even taken from the Shoreditch Town Hall. Each defaced, and I mean literally, with the Chapman Brothers’ grotesque over painting.

All the typical attributes the Chapman brothers like to put in their art are here. Eyes bulging, skeletal features revealed where flesh should be, veins popping, a nose now becoming something resembling female genitalia are painted over the original features. An effective idea, if you like to be repulsed and amused all at once, and well executed.

They are like an extreme version of demented school kids who draw on textbooks.

The more you think about these portraits the more a darker side appears. These long dead people, who blatantly had their painting done as something to keep in the family. You know, hang above their mantle piece, something to give to their kids. And now had the Chapmans have basically vandalized the one surviving memory of them. Nice. It is Duchamp, and his Mona-Lisa that is to blame for this no doubt. He gave the world subversive art the Chapmans have run with it.

The small paint-by-numbers style paintings downstairs is another example of this. The paintings, signed by A.Hitler, are of a very pleasant nature, rainbows with smiley faces, nice houses, all very jolly. Copying the style of watercolors actually auctioned last year that were attributed to Hitler, the Chapmans raise various moral and political questions and keep in with the whole subverting art theme. Blah blah blah! Personally I think it’s their obsession with Nazis that has more to do with it.

Next door they have revived their infamous Diorama scenes this time set in a tropical climate. War, Nazis and destruction rage, as skeletons fight a battle over mutilated bodies in mass graves, and mutated humans play beach ball on the sand.

Long after the YBA’s first did ‘Shocking’ as the new thing in art, the Chapmans refuse to quit. They have imaginations of disturbed children and they obviously like it that way. Much if this exhibition is very similar to previous works, even the defaced portraits that seem to be a new concept are very much along a similar theme to their Goya-influenced sketches exhibited at the White Cube over a year ago.

Is shocking going out of fashion? Not according to Jake and Dino Chapman.

No pictures yet! Have a look at their website for images (see below on London Galleries)


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