With drawing, sculpture and film that often combine scenes of violence with absurd or humorous elements, Jake and Dinos Chapman deliver powerful statements on society, politics and religion. Deeply engaged in contemporary issues of morality, the Chapman brothers are intent on putting the viewer in a state of complete moral panic.
Time and again, the Chapman brothers have returned to depictions of war by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828). Through a generous loan from Sweden’s Nationalmuseum, 20 plates from Goya’s original edition of etchings will now enter in direct dialogue with the Chapman brothers’ works. The Nature of Particlesshowcases two artistic oeuvres—one historic and one contemporary—as a means of underlining the topicality and complexity that the works represent.
Presented in the exhibition is a selection of recent works by the Chapman brothers, as well as a new, site-specific installation with poetry and taxidermied crows. A central work is The Sum of All Evil (2012–13), in which four dioramas depict an intense landscape inhabited by thousands of miniature figures. An inferno of atrocities incessantly rages on—a nightmare behind glass, at once both repulsive and fascinating. Positioned here and there throughout the exhibition space are life-sized figures clad in white Ku Klux Klan outfits. They stand contemplating the artworks, wearing smiley badges on their chests and thick rainbow colored socks and Birkenstock sandals on their feet—strong symbols that stand for very different ideologies. These figures are also feature in the cinema installation Kino Klub (2013), where one can see Fucking Hell, a montage of films the Chapman brothers have created since the early 1990s.
The idea for the exhibition The Nature of Particles stems from the exhibition Like A Prayer, currently on view in two adjacent rooms. Featured here is Disasters of War (1999), one of many Chapman brothers’ works based on Goya’s depictions of war. In these 83 etchings they have both made additions to Goya’s motifs and made their own freestanding etchings including contemporary symbols of violence, elements of childish humor and surrealist impulses.
A generous loan from the collections of Sweden’s Nationalmuseum forms the hub of the exhibition: 20 plates from Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra (c. 1810–23) engage in direct dialogue with works by the Chapman brothers. Goya’s suite of etchings depicts the atrocities inflicted upon the Spanish people by Napoleon’s invading army, but also the subsequent revenge exacted. The images are often described as the first unromanticized depictions of war. Comprised of 80 etchings, the suite was first published in 1863, a full 35 years after Goya’s death.