Chapman Brothers bringing Hell to Hong Kong

Not that I want to discourage you from looking at these images, but I feel that no picture will do this exhibition justice. I can go on and on about how intriguing the work looks, how the Chapman brothers have perhaps made the biggest noise during Basel week in Hong Kong, but even that would not give enough credit to how incredible the diorama pieces of The Sum of All Evil really are. The exhibition opened at White Cube in Hong Kong this past week and will be on display through the summer.

White Cube Hong Kong is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by British artists Jake & Dinos Chapman. This is the first exhibition of the artists’ work in China and will feature a major new ‘Hell’ installation, a group of single dioramas and a new series of ‘reworked’ paintings.

The Chapmans make work that examines cultural and historical stereotypes, using acerbic and surreal humour to question the status quo of hegemonic iconographies. They have described their practice as a way of establishing ‘how and whether we are allowed, or able, to show moral views’ and this exhibition addresses such subjects, challenging collective fears and anxieties through a selection of highly confrontational and culturally dislocating works.

Monumental in scope and minute in detail, ‘The Sum of all Evil’ (2012-13) occupies the entire ground floor of the gallery and is the most densely imagined diorama installation that the artists have produced to date. The fourth in a series of ‘Hell’ landscapes – the first and most well known of which, ‘Hell'(1999), was destroyed in a warehouse fire – the work features a multitude of intricately modelled Nazi soldiers, along with various characters from the fast food chain McDonald’s, committing violent, abhorrent acts set amid an apocalyptic landscape within four glass vitrines. Darkly humorous, ‘The Sum of all Evil’, as its title suggests, is imaginative rather than descriptive: a summation of all the worst possible ‘evils’, violence runs amok in a trans-historical and a-temporal arena.

The first floor gallery features four new diorama sculptures which expand on the themes from ‘The Sum of all Evil’. In one vitrine, the instantly recognizable, bathetic character of Ronald McDonald is depicted as a melancholic fisherman on a crumbling jetty, his legs peacefully dangling over a lake thickly tangled with dead bodies. In another, a burnt out McDonald’s restaurant appears like a relic of contemporary consumerism, a ghostly reminder of its once ubiquitous global presence.

The exhibition will also include a series of found paintings that the artists have in their words: ‘reworked and improved’. Painted originally by unknown artists, the paintings are either religious in theme or portraits where their defacement is nonetheless subversive, bringing to mind questions of hierarchy, value and context in much the same way as their previous, transgressive reworking of Goya’s famous ‘Disasters of War’ etchings did in the work ‘Insult to Injury’ (2003). 

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