Jake and Dinos Chapman are one of those duos whose artistic identity seems to be forever fused together – much like the disfigured, conjoined zygotic children they famously produced in the 1990s. So what happens when that artistic relationship in severed? As their current exhibition in London shows – really, not that much.
Spread across both of the White Cube spaces in London, Jake & Dinos Chapman: Jake or Dinos Chapman, combines works made by each of the brothers in isolation from one another over the past year. After the self-imposed severance, their work and ideas were brought together to create a show, that despite this separation, is iconically and iconoclastically the work of the Chapman brothers.
They have produced individual works in the past – notably the novels of Jake Chapman, however, even the content of these texts reference and draw upon the brothers’ collaborative practice. The consistency of their work is a testament to their umbilical inseparation – two brothers, joined in ideas and execution, even when apart.
Within the exhibition at the Hoxton Square location, it is impossible to discern what has been created by Jake and what has been created by Dinos – and this seems to be the point. Much of what is here are things we have seen before – the ground floor is home to mock-tribal totems and figures – statues housed within dirty and discarded materials of corrugated cardboard, cotton swabs, ping pong balls, wood and exposed nails, complete with spatters of blood and coffee ring stains.
On the walls, a series of hazy, colourful, fairly innocuous oil paintings. At the end of the long space a group of swastika-clothed, animal-faced children stare and contemplate the work ‘One Rabbit Contemplating the Moon’. These perverse hybrids are nothing new, but the seamless transition of the orifice-faced children previously produced by the brothers becomes increasingly violent. The beaks, mouths and trunks of the animals protrude through open wounds in the faces, pushing out from the inside and disfiguring the children in a way that is far more disturbing than the smooth genital-faced children.
Upstairs sculptures of bleeding religious figures with reptilian tongues and protruding tentacles are juxtaposed with traditional oil painting in which the figures seem to melt as their flesh bubbles away, the details, unfortunately lost in reproduction – Jesus with a swastika carved into his head, Mary’s devil tongue flickers out, Baby Jesus lies in a state of rot and decay. Religion dissolving and disfiguring in a most grotesque way.
Always pushing to disturb, shock and disgust, the solitary vision of Jake and Dinos Chapman screams against all that is pure and sanitized. Arguably the show is nothing groundbreaking, but the brothers continue to make work, even when apart, that continues to contribute to their subversion of the world – a wholehearted commitment to their iconoclastic practice.