Chapman brothers return to Italy after decades, with an exhibition in Pietrasanta

Jake & Dinos Chapman, better known as the Chapman brothers, representatives of the most provocative and transgressive wing of YBA (Young British Art), return to Italy after decades: from Aug. 11 to Nov. 5 they are on display in Pietrasanta with "The Blind leading the Dead," including historical and new works.

Jake & Dinos Chapman, better known as the Chapman brothers, representatives of the more provocative and transgressive wing of YBA (Young British Art), an aesthetic and media phenomenon that exploded in London in the early 1990s, whose fame and buzz culminated in the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy Hall (1997) featuring masterpieces from the controversial Saatchi collection, arrive in Italy after decades with a solo exhibition in Pietrasanta, at The Project Space, scheduled from Aug. 11 to Nov. 5, 2023.

Facilitated by their longtime collaborator, curator and art critic Mark Sanders, Jake & Dinos Champan offer in the Pietrasanta exhibition, titled The Blind leading the Dead, well-known works and some surprising new ones. Their iconic works were among the most controversial of those exhibited in Post Human at Castello di Rivoli (1992), thus expressing a strong doubt with respect to the progress of genetic engineering and the manipulation of dna to “create” perfect women and men, without sparing even children in this fierce criticism.

Brothers of Greek descent, Dinos was born in London in 1962 and Jake in Cheltenham in 1966. Both studied at the Royal College of Arts and were assistants to Gilbert & George, artists considered along with Francis Bacon to be pivotal in yBa’s inspiration. In 1991 their collaboration began, which seems to have ended in 2022. Inspiration goes back to Francisco Goya’s etchings the disasters of war, which they transform into large three-dimensional plastic models where blood and torture abound in a style between gore and splatter. Tragedies of war, massacres, heinous dictatorships, destruction of the environment: central works such as Nein! Eleven and Unhappy Feet: Jake & Dinos push far beyond the limits of the obscene, always showing more than what is “meant” to be seen. Theirs is a rallying cry about human folly, they are anti-militarist, ecologist, against all kinds of regimes, and they use the most direct and explicit weapons to say so.

One of the works exhibited here is Two-faced Cunt from 1997, a naked girl with two heads joined together by a vagina, made of fiberglass and latex, a theme that also returns in Solar Anus.

Conceived as an exhibition with an anthological slant, or at least summarizing the Chapmans’ different aesthetic typologies, the show displays works such as the series Monument to Immortality (2021), which connects to the nightmare of international terrorism or the many wars that haunt the earth, or as Monument to Homeless Representation (2019), which is instead a middle ground between the installation, a life-size hooded figure, inevitable to think of KKK adherents, in front of a “repainted” painting, i.e., those found paintings on which the Chapmans intervene by changing the features of some of the characters depicted, made monstrous. The Chapmans also worked with etching, a technique as old-fashioned as it is fascinating, on the theme of Exquisite Corpse, the famous surrealist game.

It is essential to contextualize their work in the fervid climate of 1990s London. The artists who dialogued with them answered to the names of Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, and art’s explosive and media potential was discovered even more than in the days of Pop. Same climate can be found in music, from Brit Pop to the Bristol Sound via club electronica, and in literature, particularly of the Scottish acids led by Irvine Welsh and his successful novel Trainspotting. It is no coincidence that when it comes to the 1990s the most correct expression is “a new cool Britannia.”

The exhibition The Blind Leading the Dead by Jake & Dinos Chapman, organized by The Project Space, formerly Marmi Via Nazario Sauro, 52 in Pietrasanta in collaboration with Tg Residency, is open until Nov. 5, 2023 with free admission daily except Mondays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., evenings by appointment only. For information, tel. 333 4191734, e-mail: website:

Pictured is a detail of Monument to Homeless Representation.

Chapman brothers return to Italy after decades, with an exhibition in Pietrasanta
Chapman brothers return to Italy after decades, with an exhibition in Pietrasanta

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