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JAKE AND DINOS CHAPMAN
BAD ART FOR BAD PEOPLE
LIVERPOOL TATE UNTIL 4 MARCH 2007
by Andy Vaughan
Spread over seven rooms the mid-career retrospective of the Chapman Brothers' work is entitled 'Bad Art for Bad People' and the contemporary artists challenge us into what we see as good or bad art and whether 'bad' art is for bad people - or even made by bad people. Or is it just art for the 21st century. Tackling the subjects of sexuality, asexuality, brutality, consumerism, death, glory, Nazism and Christianity. And that is often in just one installation.
Whereas much has been made of the Chapman's ability to shock I simply found it one big fucking laugh and you can rarely say that about an art exhibition.
“So who’d live in a house like this”?
Room 1 Anatomies: Here stand the child mannequins fused together with genitals replacing various orifices and shod in incredibly bad trainers. Fuck knows what it's all about. Misplaced or displaced sexuality? Pre-pubescent desires? Cloning? Plastic surgery? I'm really not sure but I would challenge anybody not to be amused by the 2ft high boy with an erect prick for his nose and a gaping hole for his mouth. His name? 'Fuckface', what else? When I write that million-seller novel and buy that warehouse flat little Fuckface will be my first purchase of modern art. Then again I'll have to put him away when my mum comes around. And therein may lie another conundrum.
The kitten paintings that hang in this room with titles like 'Gingerminge' are quaint and (even) pretty until you get close and note the cross-eyes or extra-eyes. You look for a while and these paintings (for me) remain quaint and pretty despite the mutations performed on them. Again would it be the same for everybody? I would think not!
Room 2 and 'Disasters of War' is their homage and cut-up reaction to and for Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. There is too much going on for me here and I would need a second visit with more hours to kill to put any sense of the work into my mind.
Room 3 'Sex and Death' sees two blow up dolls cast in shiny bronze engaging in a bit of soixante neuf that looks anything but enjoyable. Then again as it is titled Death II 2004 maybe it is not meant to be. Also in the room is the mechanical Little Death Machine that is both as nasty and functional as it sounds exploring the mechanical nature of sex.
Room 4 'Hell Sixty-Five Million Years BC' is a single work comprised of over seventy individual Blue Peter-like sculptures. Made from toilet rolls and other everyday items. Whether sticky-back plastic is used we are not told. Despite being told that this is Hell it is bright, it is breezy and it is crap. They haven't "had" me with this one.
Room 5 For anybody that enjoyed playing with toy soldiers as a child 'Miniatures and Hellscapes' is a sheer delight. The detailed miniatures produce an apocalyptic 'hellscape'. Torture, carnage and violence surround a bombed out Macdonalds. Soldiers stagger around missing limbs whilst Nazi regalia sails in the wind. The various 'hellscapes are simply brilliant and intricate pieces of art.
Room 6 The concept of 'art' is explored in 'Painting for Pleasure and Profit'. A result of six days work at the 2006 Frieze Contemporary Art Fair where the artists painted anybody that paid the required fee. The results are not what normally constitute the commissioned portrait as few look vaguely human. Again it's a laugh looking at some of the paintings but the mock-up studio with its gaudy wallpaper and floorboards adds little to the installation.
Room 7 'The Chapman Family Collection' in the final room houses a collection of faux-tribal sculptures incorporating Maccy D images. They carry off the project that looks at how global Capitalism, marketing and branding in today's society by placing the sculptures in a quiet, low-lighted room. It provides a calm environment after the shocks, sex and death of the other rooms. Yet looking at the threats provided by world Capitalism, material culture and globalisation it probably displays the most shocking and worrying images contained within the exhibition.
All things considered it is well worth £5.00 of your money. While it is inconsistent in quality (as most retrospectives are) it is never less than thought provoking, hilarious and thoroughly entertaining.
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