The Chapman Brothers at White Cube Mason's Yard

"If Hitler Had Been A Hippy How Happy Would We Be?" they ask.

from Fucking Hell
The title piece of the new show by Jake and Dinos Chapman, If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be, consists of 13 watercolours by Adolf Hitler. The paintings have been "annihilated" with hippy imagery.

The Chapmans studied at the Royal College of Art. After working for Gilbert and George, they began to exhibit together in 1993. Works such as Fuck Face, figures of girls with penises for noses, established the brothers as the enfants terribles of Britart. But it was the sculpture Hell, with its thousands of deformed soldiers, that propelled the Chapmans into the premier league of the YBAs.

To make If Hitler..., rainbows were added to Hitler's paintings of landscapes and houses. In one painting, red love hearts fly away like balloons. In another, different coloured rays emit from the center of a flower. The 13 Hitler paintings were bought as a "job lot" for £115,000, and are expected to fetch £635,000 as one work.

Jake and Dinos deny they are redeeming Hitler through the use of his paintings. "If hell exists and Hitler's there, he'll be spinning," Jake said. "People choose to look into these pictures but when Hitler was born we could not see into his future, we could not see what he could become. All these drawings say is that this person is not very good at art."
As part of the show the Chapman brothers have recreated Hell, which burnt down in the Momart fire in 2004, as a work called Fucking Hell. 30,000 mutilated figures with extra limbs and heads attack each other in nine separate cabinets arranged in the shape of a swastika. In one cabinet a miniature Hitler surveys a killing field as he paints one of his bland watercolours of a house.

The Chapmans did not know Hell was in the warehouse when they first found out about the fire. Dinos joked: "We thought it was in special storage for the stuff that Saatchi really liked." As soon as they found out Hell had been destroyed they decided to remake it. "You can't fail to see something funny about hell being on fire," Jake said. "We wanted to rescue the work from the sentimentality that soon clothed the work after it burned, an affection for the work that wasn't there when it actually existed as an object."

The upstairs gallery shows a collection of doctored Victorian oil paintings called One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved. Deformities and masks have been added to portraits of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen: a painting of a woman with hollowed out eyes and long Pinocchio nose; a man in a gorilla mask stapled to his face, salvia stretching across his open mouth.

If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be is White Cube, Mason's Yard, London until 12 July.
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