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Chapman Brothers make suicide vests in bronze and re-work Goya for new show

Debut exhibition at Blain Southern gallery in London is about the role of violence

Gareth Harris

Jake and Dinos Chapman, The Diasasters of Everyday Life (2017). Installation view Courtesy the artists and BlainSouthern. Photo: Peter Mallet

A series of seven suicide vests made of bronze are among new works on show by the UK artists Jake and Dinos Chapman at London’s Blain|Southern gallery (The Disasters of Everyday Life, 4 October-11 November). The sculptures, entitled Life and Death Vests, are based on images found online of both real and fake suicide vests worn by terrorists. Life and Death Vest I (Rush Hour) is, for instance, modelled on a prop from the Jackie Chan film Rush Hour.

According to a gallery statement: "Their works are not only an allusion to a certain artistic and philosophical tradition, but a way to free scenes of spectacular and systemic violence from a system that they have unwittingly become a part of."

The brothers have also reworked three full sets of Goya’s series The Disasters of War (1808-14). Each set includes 80 prints, with 240 works transformed in total. The pair have superimposed images of artists such as Jackson Pollock, clowns’ heads and other ghoulish features on to the etchings, which have been reworked in various media (The Disasters of Everyday Life, monochrome collage set; The Disasters of Yoga, glitter set; and The Disasters of War on Terror, watercolour set).

The new images reflect the brothers’ ongoing obsession with the Spanish master’s macabre depictions of conflict. Writing in the Tate magazine in 2006, Christopher Turner said: “The Chapman brothers, fresh out of the Royal College of Art, had become obsessed with Goya’s gory oeuvre… they were especially haunted by the famous series of etchings known as The Disasters of War, in which Goya portrayed the atrocities he had witnessed in the Peninsular War between Spain and France with a visceral horror.”

The Chapmans left White Cube gallery in London earlier this year for Blain|Southern. Its founders, Harry Blain and Graham Southern, have represented fellow YBA Mat Collishaw since 2007.