British artists and brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, part of the YBA generation that rose to fame in the 1990s, are to have their first major solo show in Turkey next year. In the Realm of the Senseless opens at Arter, a private museum in Istanbul run by the Turkish billionaire and collector and Omer Koç, on 10 February (until 7 May).
Organised by Nick Hackworth, the director of the London-based private collection Modern Forms, the exhibition will unite more Hell sculptures than ever before. They include Sum of All Evil (2012-13), which features toy soldiers, centaurs and fornicating plastic dinosaurs, and Unhappy Feet (2010), depicting penguins pecking polar bears to death on bloodied glaciers. Another four vitrines will be installed on the ground floor of the three-storey gallery.
The Hell works are arguably the Chapman’s most famous. The original installation, Hell (2000), took two years to build using 5,000 toy soldiers, but was destroyed in the 2004 Momart warehouse fire in east London. Undeterred, the artists created an enlarged version featuring 50,000 plastic figurines as Nazis being subjected to their own industrial genocide.
Jake Chapman says the work turns the Holocaust on its head, with Nazis being attacked by skeletons, mutants and aliens. “Nazis are the embodiment of the representation of evil, but what is interesting is that evil becomes a totally exhausted term,” he says. The painstaking process of dismembering the toy soldiers is an important part of the work, Chapman says. “It undermines the idea that making art is an expressive output.” With characteristic humour he adds: “It’s the closest we can get to killing people without going to prison.”
The show will also feature works from other well-known series such as The Chapman Family Collection and The Disasters of War. There are plans to include Insult to Injury, a reworked Goya etching owned by the champion tennis player John McEnroe. A mini version of the Chapman’s 2013 Shitrospective exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler gallery also goes on display, including the Kino Klub film and Ku Klux Klan mannequins wearing stripy socks and sandals.
New works include the artists’ first neon, which spells “We are Artists”, the title of the Chapman’s first solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1992, and a series of etchings painted over in rainbow colours.
The exhibition aims to offer new audiences “an overview of the Chapmans’ virulently pessimistic art and thought”, Hackworth says. “To an extent the level of their historical importance has been obscured because the art world is, in a brilliant example of systemic cognitive dissonance, still ideologically dominated by the kind of delusional ‘progressive’ thought their work specifically attacks. No one likes a party pooper but the quality of their thought and work will endure long after those delusions dissipate.”