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White Cube, London
15 July - 17 September 2011
Reviewed by: Adam Kelly »
The art world's most disgusting, aesthetically challenging and outrageous sibling duo are back with more shock for the eye to behold.
In their comeback exhibition, the Chapman brothers; who have always worked together; have decided to divide the White Cube galleries and exhibit paintings, sculptures, installations and prints without informing each other of their plans. Nonetheless, both artists have taken it upon themselves to display evermore violent, nightmarish, and yet fantastically contextual multimedia that has the viewer returning to their vision of a vehement universe. The work of the brothers has the power to appal viewers for their use of Nazi and seething racist characters which this time round have been represented by mannequins; impromptu altered original Goya prints; and their non-bashful installations of religious topics. However, the very pieces which have distanced certain spectators have also gained a following amongst critics for the brothers' unconventional use of multiple mediums that unravel traditional perceptions of aesthetically-pleasing, sublime art.
It occurs to gallery-goers and critics however, (namely myself) that the purpose of this two-gallery-spread, supposedly artist-masked show is for the brothers to question each other's own perceptions about the other and whether their vision for art is either intact or still in sync. In a manner of speaking, this may be the brothers' best exhibition yet, debuting their individual utopias that are coupled with their duo trademarks of Goya drawings, fantastically-horrible installations, depraved fairy-tale paintings and sculptures that border figuration and ethnographic psychology before transforming back into unadulterated assemblage.
Given the artists' liking for gruesome bodily disfigurations and alterations in their sculptures, installations and paintings and their adornment of devilish and fleshly appropriations to well-known sacred imagery and often generic children's colouring books, it befalls the viewer to realise the brothers are punishing their chosen pictures as though they crowned themselves Zeus of Olympus, sentencing Atlas to a lifetime of grisly torture, most echoed in Goya's A heroic feat! With dead men! from the Disasters of War series (which the brothers cast in 1993).
The Chapman brothers follow the influence of Goya's dark subject mattered paintings and prints, who was considered one of the last Old Masters and one of the first Modern, thus contributing to the brothers' ability to borderline their style and genre of art. However, it might be safe not to rule out even a filmmaker, like Guillermo del Toro, as a director of notable films like Pan's Labyrinth (2008) and Cronos (1993), which continue his directing bravura for mythical creatures that are the result of distorted, oppressed and suppressed psychology and memory, blended with fantasy and imagination.
There is the very likelihood of some unappreciated and disturbing images within both exhibitions, but that is exactly the brothers' relationship with viewers: to test the boundaries of shock and the power of the individual over the art.
Second Year student on BA (Hons) Fine Art course at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham.
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