SPOKE TOO SOON, an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by KAWS opening November 5th through December 11th, 2021 in New York.
Within their familiarity and playful lineage, KAWS’ characters are synoptic in their evocations of human emotion – a departure from his colourful abstractions, these paintings offer new narrative possibilities for his beloved cast. Facing formidable challenges, CHUM and COMPANION inhabit harsh, claustrophobic landscapes, and despite trenchant reaches for survival, they are still caught in waves of isolation, danger, and doleful woes. Whether at the edge of a cliff or a breaking branch ensuing a fateful plunge, there are only brief respites, leaving us to commiserate with their exhaustion.
Not only revealing KAWS at his most pictorial, here his iconographic works also grow a sense of self-referentiality: a pink CHUM is seen painting a portrait of a red CHUM through the lens of a smartphone conceivably held by the muse. And with self-portraiture’s rich tradition of depicting artists beside easels, KAWS both confronts and contributes to this history – the scene shown again sans smartphone – all while the object within, the painting of the downcast figure, seemingly hangs in the room nearby.
These notions extend to his works in bronze, TAKE and SHARE presenting two opposing circumstances. In the first, a protectively parental BFF holds a small COMPANION with fear and mistrust, this dejection visibly transferred to the child; in the second, the characters’ roles are reversed, and the defensive urgency is lost on the listless, toy BFF. Face-down, COMPANION 2020 assumes a similar impassivity – prostrate and dispirited, KAWS’ new figure is flattened by the sheer weight of its exhaustive surroundings. Oscillating between child and toy, subject and object, human and humanoid, KAWS’ cast of characters mirror a dispirited humanity but nonetheless make room for a joyous celebration.
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KAWS: SPOKE TOO SOON Skarstedt New York November 5th – December 11th Advanced bookings are required. HERE
About the artist
Brooklyn-based KAWS engages audiences far beyond the museums and galleries in which he regularly exhibits. His prolific body of influential work straddles the worlds of art and design to include paintings, murals, large-scale sculptures, street art, graphic and production design. Over the last two decades KAWS has built a successful career with work that consistently shows his formal agility as an artist, as well as his underlying wit, irreverence, and affection for our times. The nature of his work possesses a sophiticated humour and thoughtful interplay with consumer products and collaborations with global brands. He often draws inspiration and appropriates from pop-culture animations to form a unique artistic vocabulary for his works across various mediums. Now admired for his larger-than-life sculptures and hardedge paintings that emphasize line and colour, KAWS’ cast of hybrid cartoon and human characters are perhaps the strongest examples of his exploration of humanity. KAWS has been exhibited at the Doha Fire Station Museum, National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, High Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai.