As long ago as 1999, Jake & Dinos Chapman exhibited their series of “The Disasters of War” at the White Cube Gallery in London. Inspired by Goya’s etchings, Jake and Dinos Chapman gave them new meaning as we approached the Millennium, sometimes humorous; sometimes sinister. This fascination has continued and, nearly 20 years later, their latest reinterpretation of Goya’s etchings – The Disasters of War on Terror, the Disasters of Yoga and the Disasters of Everyday Life – run round the walls of Blain|Southern London, in front of which are bronze Life and Death Vests; vests which should be a symbol of protecting life, but when worn by suicide bombers, covered in grenades and other explosives, become a symbol of injury and death.
Here in the heart of Mayfair, at a time when there is turmoil all around the world, whether the recent shooting in Los Angeles, the independence struggle in Catalonia, ongoing wars in the Middle East and challenges from North Korea, Jake and Dinos Chapman continue their investigation of violence and turmoil in the modern world, connecting directly back to the work of Goya and his 80 prints of the Disasters of War executed from 1810 to 1820 showing the Spanish struggle against Napoleon, but bringing them up to date by adding links to modern culture such as children’s illustrations and images from the beach or an art gallery.
The Life and Death Vests stand on plinths like classical sculpture, but missing the human presence. The first apparently is cast from a prop worn by Jackie Chan in “Rush Hour”, adding a further twist about the reality of modern life and death in the illusionary world of Hollywood .
Downstairs is more colourful and less gloomy. British artist Alex Dordoy explores the 21st century ongoing reliance on paper despite predictions of the paperless office and the impact of digital media, twisting images like fabric or hanging the innards of photocopiers like archaeological remains, contrasting with his sharp geometric paintings that start life from paper cut-outs. Paper is far from dead in this exhibition “The Moss is Dreaming”.