Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good

2007
Cardboard, Paint

Hell, a seminal Chapman Brothers’ work, was destroyed in the fire that engulfed the Charles Saatchi collection in 2004, along with the cream of the YBA’s output. In contrast to the sophisticated fabrication of Hell, and perhaps as a retort to the destruction of valuable work, the brothers constructed Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good: 31 miniature sculptures made from papier-mâché and poster paint.

The title derives from the Animalist mantra of George Orwell’s classic novella Animal Farm. In the book, as the pigs become more human their rallying cry gradually morphs into the similar but completely antithetical slogan ‘four legs good two legs better’, thereby establishing a new hegemony over the other animals – exactly what they sought to eradicate

The myriad of crafted creatures includes a bucket of eyeballs floating in blood, a cow defecating, a collection of ominous crows, a sheep suffering from haemorrhoids and a demented looking farmer. This marriage of Orwellian derision and Chapman scandal results in a macabre interpretation of a farm, most commonly associated with sweetness and childhood.

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About The Artist

For over twenty years Jake and Dinos Chapman have been working collaboratively to produce a colossal and controversial body of work that addresses such inflammatory subjects as the inability to repress human violence, precarity of universal ideologies and the presupposed innocence of children. Nazism is used
to reference characters who should be in hell, as a means of creating a setting for violence and as a symbol of modern evil. With a rich catalogue of imagery and appropriated contemporary iconography, from commercial logos to pornographic sex dolls, the brothers’ courageous refusal to compromise or censor makes their work honest and painfully reflective of our age.

The Chapman Brothers’ unyielding depictions of the brutality of contemporary systems with irreverence and humour often succeed in remaining with you. Their insistence on confronting audiences with a violence at the core of humanity has an antagonising poetry to it. The barbarity has no trace of the subtlety of others who also comment on of the horrors of modernity such as JG Ballard. Instead, the Chapmans’ determination to expose audiences is audaciously progressive. By revealing the horrors of society, the brothers deliver an existential warning of the hazards of social denial with a dose of gore and wit.

‘Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good’ is currently on display

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Jake and Dinos Chapman

Other Artworks by Jake and Dinos Chapman at CASS