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When the Reykjavik Museum provokes the imagination of contemporary artists, The Art of Chess is born and even chess boards are bound to lose their uptight attitude. Part of Gilbert’s Collection, the sets on display in the Icelandic museum include the thought-provoking creations of internationally renowned artists such as Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and Alastair Mackie.
Damien Hirst presents a pharmaceutical approach to the traditional board game, using etched and transparent pill bottles for black and white pawns, respectively. His concept ‘Mental Escapology’ employs a mirrored surgical-looking board with biohazard signs and a matching storing cabinet. A game of chess possibly revolves around the edges of sanity in the mind of the creative artist.
With a more life-loving attitude, hand painted porcelain silhouettes take the place of chess pieces in the Good and Evil creation of Maurizio Cattelan. The colorful figures represent notorious characters including Rasputin, Donatella Versace and Gandhi, while the “White King” Adolph Hitler and “Black King” Martin Luther King are the stars of the show.
Alastair Mackie spreads his touch on the historical game with some animal kingdom magic. Each chess piece of the Amorphous Organic set encapsulates a single suspended insect, a flying one for “Whites” and a ground based one for “Blacks.” Reminiscent of the spectacular “Jurassic Park” movie, the insects are trapped in the clear amber cylinders, which are illuminated by the glowing board surface.