Exhibition was ‘dreadfully flat’

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The latest exhibition at the Jerwood featuring the Chapman brothers entitled The realms of the unmentionable is supposed to shock and challenge you with grotesque images and a dark message.

Unfortunately it is dreadfully flat and tame and lends itself more to Blue Peter than blue murder!

Its sculptural displays of old craft tools painted, glued and botched together to make a ‘Wallace and Grommit’ style contraption just left me completely devoid of emotion - at least if they’d had moving parts and produced sausages or something it would have been more interesting and fun.

One assembled piece did its best to try and make my pulse race. It was the sort of thing you might expect from a group of naughty school boys left unattended in the woodwork room for half an hour - but not renowned artists.

These ‘sculptures’ are flanked by various life-size taylor’s dummies in ineffectual clothes and pose and again doing nothing for me, apart from (as I wondered around} it felt like there were other people in the room - which was reassuring to know I wasn’t the only dummie there.

There’s a large display in the centre of the main gallery, rather like the famous battle re-enactments (we’ve all seen in museums) comprising thousands of tiny plastic skeletons, about one and a half inches tall, in various throws of violent or sexual acts and piled on top of each other in a chaotic mass, and probably designed to make you shudder - if only.

We live in an age where we’re used to seeing violent images from blockbuster all action movies, where you see heads being dissected and blood and guts flying everywhere and as such this exhibition is about frightening and confrontational as a popping balloon!

Deflated but undeterred I proceded around the periphery of the room to view the various prints and illustrations on the walls. Some are re-workings of Goya etchings (again following the macarbre them), though I could hardly muster any interest as they were so tiny and monochrome (about 6ins by 6ins) and seriously lacked the wow factor.

In the gallery opposite,there hung several portraits in varying stages of decay - some with disfigured faces and rotting flesh, and these did (at last} confront me, make me shudder a little, though by the 10th picture (of similer images) the effect had worn a bit thin.

In the final room the ceiling has been lowered to four-and-a-half feet so you have to stoop down to view the one pathetic little still life painting in it. What is this about? It is just nothing - it didn’t shock, didn’t please but just may hurt your your back as you stoop with bent knees.

In conclusion this show is very weak - the Chapman brothers can and have done better, indeed their exhibition at Hastings Museum five years ago, for me, was far more succinct and powerful with lots of good paintings (including the decay ones mentioned above) and a magnificent centrepiece sculpture comprising animated animals in unlikely pose.

Unfortunately there is very little craft, emotional nor entertainment value in this exhibition, its been well-promoted (including TV coverage) and it’s housed in a lovely gallery and it tries so hard to hoodwink the public into thinking this is great art. Believe me it’s not.

Mike Funnell

Wishing Tree Road

St Leonards