Three years after opening Fucking Hell, a pop-up store in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, The Chapman Brothers have returned to the Dutch capital with a comprehensive exhibition at H.E.R.O Gallery. The Rainbow of Human Kindness brings a strong selection of the duo’s finest work from over the last decade or so, including a titular set of recent etchings, watercolor over giclée prints, as well as sculptural installations and a selection of miniature “hellscapes” works.
Maintaining a varied creative output, Jake and Dinos Chapman are controversial figures who continuously cause outrage through experimentation in the dark underbelly of the world. Viewing their practice as a “healthy, non-pathological form of psychosis”, the brothers enable themselves to speculate about certain themes, symbols, and icons in ways that aren’t possible in real life. Their work goes beyond the initial outrage effect and dives into a progressive philosophical sphere, creating an alternative world in which characters and imagery are attributed with compromising qualities of their stereotypical reputation.
Through diabolical dioramas presented in a miniature format, the Chapman Brothers display the destructive and bloodthirsty nature of mankind that peaks with their hellscapes piece, where endless piles of corpses form a solid mass. Using everything from rats, penguins, and polar bears, all the way to soldiers and Ronald McDonald, these works invoke more humor than disgust, despite their inevitably provocative and shocking appearance. Allegedly inspired by March of the Penguins, a documentary celebrating the triumph of the penguin spirit over misfortune, the Chapman Brothers tell a story of monumental twists through their mind-blowing Unhappy Feet piece. A clear metaphor for war, Unhappy Feet portrays the cute, furry animals as brutal and ferocious murders, leaving a trail of blood as they massacre everything from orcas and walruses to polar bears, which signify an imaginative consequence to climate change.
Featuring quotations from Modern masterpieces, plastinated bodies of Gunther von Hagens, a cartoon robot, tribal sculptures and soft toys of Jake & Dinos own work, The Rainbow of Human Kindness includes a recent series of etchings that culminate “the ultimate statement of the Chapman Brothers profound belief in the unity of all things.” Bronze sculptures are represented with I wanted to punish myself and Someone offered me money to do it pieces, while The New Arrival and Minderwertigkinder are captivating examples of their life-size installation work. Exhibited under World Peace Through World Domination banners that revisit Nazi insignia, each piece in the exhibition alters reason, empathy, and moral purpose, taking the viewer for an intense ride between the shockingly familiar, surprisingly humorous, and happily revelatory.
Photo: Peter Tijhuis / Copyright: Jake and Dinos Chapman / Courtesy of H.E.R.O. Amsterdam