Dear birthday Santa. Please can you swing by Scream Editions? Kthxbai

So a few months ago, I blew my whole things-to-put-on-the-wall budget on two rather lovely artworks by Jonathon Speed and Rob Braybrooks:

Je ne regrete rien.

Anywho, as lovely as they are, my walls are bare and my wallet is (nearly) empty. Luckily for me, Scream Editions has opened its virtual gallery doors to give people like me the chance to get our paws on limited edition prints. Yay, cheaper art, kinda.

The big dogs are there - Tracey Emin, Charming Baker, etc - but I love the fact that it gives art babies the chance to start their own collection on a bit of a budget.

Jamie Wood, confirmed crazyman if my one meeting with him is anything to go by, is behind it all. He, too, has a pash for making quality, contemporary art accessible and available to everyone. I'm just jumping up and down in anticipation of their collab with the Chapman Brothers later this year!

It's my birthday on Monday. First person to buy me this gets a prize (hug).

New fantasy dinner party guests: Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman and Ai Weiwei

Ok, my brain is fried, and I'll tell you why.

Once upon a time there was a man called Ai Weiwei, who came all the way from China. Art was his bag, so he gathered the funds to buy some Han dynasty urns.

In an act of appropriation art (which is essentially when an artist takes an existing artwork, changes it in some way, and calls it their own) he painted them and took pictures of himself dropping them onto the floor, so obviously they smashed. The pictures were blown up to a slightly larger than life triptych and became an artwork in their own right, called 'Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn'. If you were to look into the ideology behind this act/artwork, you might find a middle finger to Chinese history; and you might find one aimed at the Western misconception that all Chinese art is ancient.

Anyway, that was in 1995. Fast forward 17 years, and art collector Uli Sigg came into ownership of Coca Cola Urn, which was one of Ai's most famous works. He was filmed smashing it, and other than the whole scenario being slightly omg-is-the-art-collector-the-artist-now-or-what-argh-omg, no one really cared. Uli Sigg owned the artwork, so he was free to do with it what he pleased.

Ai Weiwei, Coca Cola Urn

The triptych 'Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn', which shows the photographs of Ai Weiwei's original act, forms part of a current exhibition at Perez Museum in Miami. The images sit alongside some more urns of Ai Weiwei's.

Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

In walks local artist Maximo Caminero. He thinks to himself, 'Why is this gallery not promoting local talent? Why is it promoting a famous, foreign artist, when there are so many great artists on its doorstep, struggling to get on a plinth? I'm gunna do something about this.' So he picks up one of Ai Weiwei's urns, and he smashes it.

Maximo Caminero

Strike three to the Han dynasty urns; originally steeped in tradition and now vessels for comment on contemporary artistic practice.

Ok, but what does it all MEAN?

When someone owns an artwork, they can do with it what they wish (as represented by the fact that Ai Weiwei and Uli Sigg didn't get told off by the world when they smashed ancient urns). But when Maximo Caminero does it, he is branded a vandal. Fair enough, but the difference of right and wrong boils down to the concept of ownership, which is synonymous with commerce (Jonathon Jones has an interesting take on it - click here to read it). Does this mean Ai Weiwei is one of the few artists who believes in the traditional concept of ownership? He did condemn Caminero's act as destructive, after all.

So if someone ever says "all modern artists are the same" (because people insist on confusing 'modern art' with 'contemporary art'), give them the comparison of Ai Weiwei, who believes that in commerce lies power, and it's good; and The Chapman Brothers, who believe that in commerce lies power, and it is bad bad bad (click here to read 75 brilliant words about the piece below).

The Chapman Brothers

New fantasy dinner party guests: Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman and Ai Weiwei. Fight it out boys, but play nicely.

Is any artwork truly original? The Gioconda Project thinks so

Originality is a funny old concept, isn't it? 

I was in Budapest at the weekend, wandering around the National Museum of Fine Art and taking in the old Hungarian masters. That's not a genre I previously sought out, but some really are stunning. Case in point:

Josef Bogdany

Walking from room to room, I noticed how each artist was inspired by the one before him. We tend to think art = creative = original, but art is also a response to inspiration; a response to something that already exists. So originality in art is a bit of a grey area.

Historically, artists have made a point to look at the same subject and demonstrate how each person can see it differently. There are endless examples, but Sherrie Levine's Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp) springs to mind. Below, you can see Levine's golden version next to a replica of the 'original'. Funnily enough, the whereabouts of the true 'original' Fountain are unknown. As is the case here, many artists revel in what might first appear as a lack of originality, but is in fact a display of how unique our perceptions can be.

Sherrie Levine, Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp); Marcel Duchamp, Fountain [replica]

That is certainly the case for the 181 contemporary artists from who have individually reinterpreted the Mona Lisa for The Gioconda Project. Their art will completely fill the W3 Gallery in Acton, London, from 25th February to 5th March. Through their creations, they are bringing contemporary art to everyone through the familiar vehicle of one of the most famous artworks in history. I hear there's going to be traditional painting, drawing, illustration, collage, mark making and digital art. Here are just some examples:

Maryam Charmchi, La Gioconda

Gabriel T Toro II, La Gioconda

Papierteufel, La Gioconda

It's easy to see an artist interpreting the work of another artist, and accuse them of laziness or for failing to seek inspiration. But seeing so many different approaches to the same piece highlights just how much of the artist goes into any and every artwork. Let me know if you're able to make it to W3 Gallery, and which pieces stand out to you.

The Chapman Brothers: Come and See

If you have ever been to a Chapman Brothers show, you'll know what I'm talking about: 'creepy' doesn't even begin to describe it.

I used to lump Jake and Dinos Chapman in the same puffed-up, attention-seeking category as Tracey Emin, but not anymore (I've changed my mind on her, too). I've grown more interested in what they have to say over recent years. The If Hitler Was A Hippy, How Happy Would We Be? series, in which they paint over the top of the fruits of Adolf Hitler's early artistry, was the first series that made me come around.

The Chapman Brothers, If Hitler Was A Hippy, How Happy Would We Be

The theme of Nazism continues in this new show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, which has a really interesting layout. Glass boxes house tiny little worlds torn apart by war and consumerism. Not so subtly, this is represented by Ronald McDonald, soldiers and civilians tearing each other to shreds (look closely at the picture below). As you're peering into the first glass box, you look through to the other side. Two Klu Klax Klan-sters are mimicing you, peering interestedly peeking into this weird little world.

The Chapman Brothers, Come and See

The most unsettling part for me was not the fact that the artists are parodying the viewers as KKK members, but the eyes. My God, the eyes.

The Chapman Brothers, Come and See

Moving on through the exhibition, mock-primitive sculpture with Ronald McDonald's head suggests that our consumerist icons have penetrated us so deeply, no cultural corner can escape.

The Chapman Brothers, Come and See

The overall theme of this exhibition, like many of The Chapman Brothers' shows, is complete and utter chaos. The subtheme is worldwide organisations. Characteristically for The Chapman Brothers, I understood a large comment on humanity with the hints of primitive culture: we grew out of non-civilisation and organised ourselves into societies. But this has evolved to the point where we're in a much more chaotic situation - represented by the glass boxes - than if we had never sought organisation at all. But there's no going back now. Evil is everywhere you turn in this exhibition, and the pile-up of hell is inescapable.

The Chapman Brothers, Come and See

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