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BP&B's featured art

In Wolves Clothing: Re-imagining the Doll
Show Studio, 1-9 Bruton Place, London, W1J 6LT
September 9th – October 30th

There is a perennial fascination with dolls in art. The two occupy the same territory, representing the human world in something created and controllable. In combining them, this latest offering from Nick Knight’s ShowStudio gallery, Shop, has doubled something that both offer. But is it the frivolity or the insight?
By far the exhibition’s biggest failing is that Jake and Dinos Chapman created something great. Yes, it’s a victory for the art world and the brother artists, but spare a thought for the Middle England papers that have nothing to rubbish.

Their work, a single diorama of nudity and violence beside an autumnal tree, is one of the stand-out pieces of the show. Another is the huge wall of Punch and Judy dolls that flanks the entrance to the gallery, which quickly proves itself to be the small package good things come in.

Among the ranks of hand puppets are Soviet Generals and even the Devil. All are traditional, wooden puppets, none made specially. The inclusion, en masse, of what feel like they should be oddities start to push at your conceived notions about what a doll is for. Knitted, high fashion Barbie-dolls do the rest, accompanied by Nick Knight’s provocative photos of a girl in convincing doll-dress.

Downstairs, the film elements are on show. Most of these lack the immediate impact of the static works on the ground floor. An exploration of modern artist using paint-filled surgical gloves (courtesy, again, of the brothers Chapman) is certainly entertaining but cannot compete with what has come before it. It should be made clear that in most other exhibition these films would be amongst the best pieces but here they seem almost an afterthought of their creators.

To say this exhibition achieves what all art promises but so frequently fails to deliver would be true (if lacking in the subtlety that makes ‘In Wolves Clothing’ such a joy). It makes you reconsider the ordinary. And that alone makes it worth visiting. Twice.