Jake and Dinos Chapman are the Burke and Hare of contemporary British Art. Impeccable craftsmen, theoretically astute, art historically aware and British Council approved - they are in the show of young Brits at the Venice Biennale - the Chapman brothers are also the perpetrators of some of the most unseemly art of our times.
The work of the Chapman brothers is in its way, deeply traditional, harking back to an age when it was still possible to shock. In one of their manifestos, Jake Chapman (the one who looked like a wired-up, goatee'd advert for Duracell batteries in the June issue of Vogue) has written: "I want to rub salt into your inferiority complex, smash your ego in the face, gouge your eyes from their sockets and piss in the empty holes." They also aver, happily, that their work - fuelled on sibling rivalry, on de Sade and Bataille - is "sadistic and anal".

From humble beginnings, as assistants to Gilbert and George, these two nice, well brought-up boys from Hastings, Jake (28) and Dinos (33) have shocked, seduced and smart-arsed their way into the galleries, magazines and headlines of Europe and America. One Italian dealer, who received a pair of sculpted mannequins called Mummy and Daddy Chapman, immediately banned the work from the show he was planning. Mummy Chapman sprouted vaginas and penises from various parts of her body, while Daddy Chapman sported a nasty rash of sphincters.

The Brothers have since modelled a severed head of their querulous gallerist, replete with an erect penis for a nose, a smile like the Mona Lisa, and a nasty, matted, synthetic wig. This decapitated, prosthetic Pinocchio plays the leading male role in their recent, unscreenable porno movie Bring Me The Head of ... made with professional sex artistes in Soho.

"We are not," the Chapmans say, "trying to test liberal boundaries." Instead, they are interested in the aesthetics of death: one can certainly describe the acting of their head-double as stiff, in every sense of the word.

Their other works have included an infant with a sex-doll mouth (called Fuck-Face), a polymorphously perverse Siamese Twat and two meticulous, harrowing reworkings of Goya's Disasters of War suite of etchings.

Currently they are working on a sculpture of Stephen Hawking, "with his saucepan grin, staring into the teleological distance". Hawking, wheelchair bound, sits atop a rocky mound, like Landseer's Monarch of the Glen, while a smoke machine billows fog about the base of the craggy scarp. The Chapmans, adolescent aesthetes at war with the grown-up world, just don't know when to stop.

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