News from London: Jake Chapman on dogs and flower arranging, Wolfgang Tillmans on Bush's backside, C. I. Kim on his front side

Meanwhile Britain's rugby hero, Jonny Wilkinson, brings sporting glamour to the BALTIC


Jake Chapman attacks Nicholas Serota, with lily…

During his post-prandial rounds of the unsuccessful nominees on Turner Prize evening, Sir Nick Serota got rather more than he bargained for when he attempted to whisper condolences into the ear of Jake Chapman. Instead of being greeted with the humble respect that he has come to expect from the artistic community, the capo di tutti i capi found himself gripped in a ferocious armlock as a maniacally grinning Jake Chapman beat him vigorously about the head with a single arum lily seized from the table arrangement, while repeatedly shouting “It’s all your fault!” When the flower eventually snapped under the pressure, Chapman then attempted to stuff the stem into the hapless Sir Nick’s mouth, before sending the unfortunate Tate director reeling off to find Anya Gallaccio, who tends to treat flowers with more respect. What a pity the TV cameras were still directed towards the frocked and furbelowed Grayson Perry.

…and reveals all in Dog’s Quarterly...

In any case, the Chapman Bros amply, and more peacefully, compensated for any Turner Prize disappointment by making themselves the art world’s favourite cover boys for the run-up to Christmas. Their adaptation of Goya’s blasted, corpse-adorned tree which they bedecked with baubles, tinsel and lashings of snow formed a gruesomely seasonal cover for Time Out London, suitably re-christened “The nightmare before Christmas”. At the same time, Jake is currently appearing on the cover of DQ, “Dog’s Quarterly” with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch, called Kylie. Inside the “dog glossy”, Chapman explains his Turner Prize tension by revealing that, in addition to having to pull major new work out of the hat due to Charles Saatchi’s refusal to lend “Hell” for the Turner show, the new pieces for the Turner had also cost some £100,000 to make. Kylie, Chapman confides, has been essential in alleviating this pressure: “I needed a little object that I could torture and humiliate and she would not leave,” he declares. “That is what you look for in people, a quality you rarely get in humans.”

Thomas Dane’s new gallery

Yet more evidence of the capital’s burgeoning West End art scene with the news that, at the end of March, Thomas Dane is to open a new first-floor gallery conveniently behind Christie’s at 11 Duke Street, St James’s. This will be a space for projects by contemporary artists and will remain separate from Dane’s very successful secondary market activities. First artist slated to show is Steve McQueen, with whom Dane has been working since McQueen left Anthony Reynolds Gallery two years ago. But although McQueen has recently been spending time with British troops in Iraq as part of a commission by the Imperial War Museum, the work that emerges as an outcome of these visits to Basra and Baghdad will not be unveiled until the autumn.

Wolfgang Tillmans bares all on peace march

There were a number of creative banners on show at the anti-Bush demo back in November, but few were as forthright as the one brandished by Wolfgang Tillmans (below right) upon which he had reproduced “Philip close up 111” a work of 1997 showing a very bared backside, accompanied by the statement “The axis of evil goes right thru George W’s juicy manhole”, an image guaranteed to put the notoriously prudish president off his pretzels, if not his warmongering.

C.I. Kim gets his kit off

The great and the grateful turned out in their droves at the opening night of Union Projects for an exhibition of work by Korean collector-turned artist C.I. Kim. Mr Kim has been an extremely good customer for the likes of Jay Jopling and Nicholas Logsdail, both of whom obliged by turning up to admire his multifarious oeuvre, along with numerous artists who have benefited from his patronage, including Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and John Isaacs. However, there was no sign of Damien Hirst, whose giant anatomical model “Hymn” graces Mr Kim’s Cheonan department store. Even Charles Saatchi popped in on the morning of the show, perhaps to check out his new rival on the Brit art collecting stakes. The evening unveiling of Mr Kim’s often highly confessional paintings, photographs and installations got off to a swinging start with the great man himself jovially distributing metal friendship badges of his own design and wielding the giant magnifying glass that crops up as a recurring motif in much of his oeuvre (below left). Later on, at the lavish and increasingly Bacchanalian dinner, Mr Kim became even more exuberant; and, when he displayed new extremes of collector conviviality by removing all of his clothes, the crucial role of that magnifying glass became all the more apparent.

Stephen Snoddy in Baltic scrum

Now that he has landed the top job at BALTIC (below) and has turned his gaze to the North East, former Milton Keynes Gallery director Stephen Snoddy (below left) is re-exploring his rugby-playing glory days as a mean scrum-half. As any rugger aficionado is well aware, as well as being the England team’s most luminous member, Jonny Wilkinson also plays with the Newcastle Falcons, and Snoddy is apparently making plans to organise a photocall with the new BALTIC director playing half back to the fly-half local hero.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Cover boy gets the blues'