The newest outpost of the Serpentine Gallery, the Sackler Gallery, is currently proving its worth as a gallery space. It opened with rising-talent Adrián Villar Rojas, and now it is overshadowing London's established and long-standing galleries with Jake and Dinos Chapman: Come and See – a blockbuster show of the brother artists who, although not as internationally recognised as fellow yBAs Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, hold an important place at the heart of Britain's cultural scene.
Borrowing the title of the impressive and haunting 1985 film by Elem Klimov, Come and See promises to display the horror of World War Two – a reference to the work that first brought the Chapman Brothers acclaim, Hell (2000). This piece, consisting of nine vitrines depicting mass atrocities carried out by 1:32 scale Nazis, was lost in a fire in 2004. In its place today stands The Sum of All Evil (2012–13), not a replica but perhaps a re-interpretation of the harrowing scenes of death and mutilation WWII inspires in our minds; a physical rendering of how many would like the Nazis to suffer eternally in hell. This piece is normally assembled in a swastika formation: but due to the confines of the Sackler gallery it is arranged somewhat differently than usual, broken into a less referential form. Contained here is the typography of hell; the typography of evil, appearing in these deep, sardonic pieces – instantly recognisable and yet incredibly difficult to contemplate.
The artworks that form the Chapman Family Collection (2002) are everywhere right now. With a central place in Tate Britain's chronological look at British art, and pieces popping up at Frieze and frequently filling space at White Cube events, it might seem like overkill; however there is something joyful and exciting about every one you come across. Through appropriating religious iconography and consumerist symbolism, these pieces hint at African tribal art and at the practice of political effigy-building. Ronald Mcdonald is the most ubiquitous of the mocked mascots: anecdotally important to the Chapman brothers as, when poor struggling artists, McDonalds became their sole source of sustenance (and much in the way of health problems). At Come and See the work Shitrospective (2009) is importantly also on display. These mixed-media (predominantly card) versions of works that could be in the Chapman Family Collection are less frequently shown but are just as engaging to look at.
Something I have not seen before but enjoyed greatly was Kontamination examination of the significunt material related to human eXistenZ on earth (2009). Another large mixed-media work, this looks at first like another vitirine piece – an echo of a Hirst glass cube work. Contained inside are paint splodges, a spinning plate (now nearly synonymous with Damien Hirst's recent works), and images of early works. Here the Chapman's face their own background as they review and disassemble their yBA roots. The title suggests a memory box or time capsule: this piece is a moment of British artistic history, saved and simultaneously mocked.
To describe a cross-section of this show is to undoubtedly miss out many of its most engaging and famous components. The KKK sculptures, altered oil paintings, painted bronze contraptions, etchings and prints that I have not discussed in depth are just as, if not more, engaging than those I have. This will be the best show you see this festive season: the only downside – it's undoubtedly going to be packed.