Jake and Dinos Chapman make iconoclastic sculpture, prints and installations that examine, with searing wit and energy, contemporary politics, religion and morality.
Working together since their graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1990, the Chapmans first received critical acclaim in 1991 for a diorama sculpture entitled ‘Disasters of War’ created out of remodelled plastic figurines enacting scenes from Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ etchings. Later they took a single scene from the work and meticulously transformed it into a ‘Great Deeds Against the Dead’ (1994), a life-size tableau of reworked fibreglass mannequins depicting three castrated and mutilated soldiers tied to a tree.
Arguably their most ambitious work was ‘Hell’ (1999), an immense tabletop tableau, peopled with over 30,000 remodelled, 2-inch-high figures, many in Nazi uniform and performing egregious acts of cruelty. The work combined historical, religious and mythic narratives to present an apocalyptic snapshot of the twentieth-century. Tragically this work was destroyed in the MOMART fire in 2004 and the Chapmans rebuked by saying they would make another, more ambitious in scale and detail – the result of which was ‘Fucking Hell’ (2008). The interim saw ‘The Chapman Family Collection’ (2002), comprised of a group of sculptures that bring to mind the loot from a Victorian explorer’s trophy bag, yet also portraying characters from McDonald’s. The conflation of the exotic fetish and the cheap fast-food giveaway, imperialism and globalisation, created a powerful sense of dislocation. ‘Like A Dog Returns To Its Vomit’ (2005), was an exhibition of the Chapmans’ graphic works, a large collection of etchings and drawings displayed on two walls and arranged in the shape of dogs. Many of the works were reinterpretations of Goya etchings, including the ‘Disasters Of War’ and the ‘Los Caprichos’ series. Using the Tate Collection’s erotomanic sculpture ‘Little Death Machine (Castrated)’ (1993) as their point of departure, the Chapmans created ‘When Humans Walked the Earth’ (2008) an installation of ten improbable machines, cast in bronze and now ossified, emulating aspects of human behaviour with a trademark subversive wit.
Jake Chapman was born in 1966 in Cheltenham, Dinos Chapman in 1962 in London. They live and work in London. They have exhibited extensively, including solo shows The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (2012); Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare, Italy (2010); Hastings Museum, UK (2009); Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover (2008); Tate Britain, London (2007); Tate Liverpool (2006); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2005); Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf (2003); Modern Art Oxford (2003); and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000). Group exhibitions include the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011), the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010); Meadows Museum, Texas (2010); ‘Rude Britannia’, Tate Britain (2010); Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2010); Hareng Saur: Ensor and Contemporary Art, S.M.A.K, Ghent (2010), National Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2009); Kunstverein Hamburg (2009); British Museum, London (2009); Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille (2008); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2008); ICA, London (2008); ‘Summer Exhibition’, Annenberg Courtyard, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); ARS 06, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki (2006) and Turner Prize, Tate Britain (2003).