Jake & Dinos Chapman: My Giant Colouring Book (2004)

07.10.2014 to 31.12.2014
Neue Nationalgalerie

Jake & Dinos Chapman (b. 1966 and 1962 in Cheltenham and London, respectively) were, in the 1990s, members of the group Young British Artists, much celebrated by the media - along with Tracey Enim, Liam Gillick and Damien Hirst. The two brothers had studied from 1988-1990 at the Royal College of Art in London and worked as assistants to the artist duo Gilbert & George, until they began constructing figurative sculptures that stood out for their special shock value. Several of these were displayed in 1997 in the much discussed exhibit "Sensation", which presented works of the Young British Artists from the entrepreneur Charles Saatchi's own collection. The exhibit was also shown in the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart in 1998. In 2003, the Chapman brothers were nominated for the renowned Turner Prize, awarded by the Tate Gallery.

For their portfolio of prints deemed "My Giant Colouring Book", produced a year later and published by Charles Booth-Clibborn at his publishing house The Paragon Press, the brothers utilised pages from traditionally common colouring books for children, which are meant to be progressively painted or drawn by numbers, ultimately causing a coherent figure or scene to form. As long as the child drawing properly forms all of the lines from one numbered point to another, harmonious, harmless images are created. The Chapman brothers radically break away from this idyllic world with their linear additions and overpainting. The calculated innocence of the colouring book scenes provoked the two to certain destruction. Evil, the perverse and dismal, death and annihilation are excitingly and humorously revealed in their revisions which render the etchings in a reduction of colour. Nightmarish abysses are revealed which also exhibit foundations in social and political reality. The corset of numbers, points and picture fragments displayed is playfully burst open. This occurs both with a few short lines in some areas, and in a complex artistic manner in others. The approach the Chapmans take in this regard is simple: "The pictures in "My Giant Colouring Book" are about how wrong you could make an image. How you could use nodal points and ignore them at the same time." (Dinos Chapman)

As with their sculptures, Jake & Dinos Chapman are aware in their shocking aesthetics of their obligation to figures from art history - especially the Spaniard Francisco Goya, who created his 82 "Desastres de la Guerra" between 1810 and 1820. In their etchings from 1999 for "Disasters of War", likewise published by The Paragon Press in London, they quite explicitly reference this work.

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