The Chapman Brothers twenty first century depictions of Goya’s drawings can be seen as a major new interpretation of his work. For starters, the minimalist way they added the blue faces with large ears, is not just an artistic expression of change – it is more a new rendering of how we deal with sadness and difficult situations. While certainly there was some pushback from Goya purists, their renderings of his drawings provide a twenty first century vibe, and despite their bold colors, actually fit quite well within Goya’s frame work. For example, their depictions of war scenes with grotesque faces make us think more critically, perhaps, about the absurdity of war and violence. Poking fun, or at least asking the viewer for a second look, at serious or controversial topics is an essential part of what the Chapman’s are doing with their work in Goya.
To some, the Chapman brothers work is seen as defacement; as vandalism. I find it interesting that some purists refer to their art as vandalism, a demeaning way to describe a usually very intriguing art form. For Goya’s “Disasters of War” to be in conversation with Chapman’s work shows a serious need to discuss war from a new lens. This might be especially prevalent today, as the current political climate, with regards to both Russia and North Korea, seem to be escalating.