At the Jerwood: In the Realm of the Unmentionable

Part of

Jake and Dinos Chapman are at the Jerwood Gallery and Hastings’ Stade-based gallery is keen that you should know that the Chapmans are Hastings boys done good.  The initial build up presented this partially crowd-funded exhibition as something of a return home, as if only once they’d had a show in their birthplace could the lads be considered true artists.

In the Realm of the Unmentionable is everything you’d expect it to be and that’s either a Good Thing or a Bad Thing depending on how charitable you’re feeling.  This is art that might have shocked about 25 years ago when the YBAs first terrorised the RA but nowadays has a ring of, “Hmmm, interesting …”  It’s almost nostalgic.

There’s a homage to Tracey Emin’s tent.  It’s a tent.  There is the intricate work of The Sum of All Evil but seeing Nazis terrorise skeletal Ronald McDonalds looks like a 3D Banksy.  And there are other things of obvious skill but no onward development from what the Chapmans, and others, have been doing for a few decades now.  It’s not that it’s not engaging it’s just that it’s not exciting.  The whole thing could be covered by The One Show and no one would phone in to complain.

Obviously, the point of ‘modern’ art isn’t just to shock but if it’s going to work it surely has to provoke a genuine reaction.  And that’s what’s missing in this exhibition.  The Good Thing is that this is an honest overview of their work and direction – and what’s here is well realised, the Bad Thing is that it feels a bit like we’ve been given invitations to a party that’s ended long before we’ve arrived.

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