Major exhibition by one of today's most relevant artists
All-star American artist KAWS presented his first UK museum exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The spectacular show, spreading across the YSP's Longside Gallery and the park's external grounds, featured monumental sculptures in bronze, fibreglass, aluminium and wood alongside large canvases immaculately rendered in acrylic paint – some created especially for the exhibition
Alexandra Kollaros in front of "Survival Machine", inside the Longside gallery | Top image "Good Intentions" at the YSP grounds
The historically designed landscape of YSP is home to a collection of 6 monumental sculptures, scattered around its grounds. Executed in KAWS’s trademark style, the nostalgic cartoon-like characters in the process of growing up create a poetic dialogue with the magnificent surroundings.
The expansive Longside Gallery featured a striking collection of bright, graphic painted works and towering sculptures in fibreglass and wood. Familiar, favourite figures, such as Companion, Accomplice and Chum, reunited with other astonishing KAWS characters, together providing a wonderland spectacle.
Some of the artist's most imposing pieces were on show; the 3m-high COMPANION (ORIGINAL FAKE), with its skin peeled back to reveal highly coloured internal organs, and the gigantic 5m-high COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) rendering the viewing experience downright arresting.
The acrylic paintings were equally impressive. SURVIVAL MACHINE, a series of five meticulously detailed, grand-scale canvases, spanned the largest wall of the spacious gallery. UPS AND DOWNS, a series of 10 canvases, pointing towards SpongeBob, was another delightful KAWS classic.
"Companion" (Passing Through) view, Longside Gallery
The Brooklyn-based artist is considered one of the most interesting artists of today. Prolific in a variety of media and genres (including painting, sculpture, graphic design, toys and prints) he has the charisma of engaging diverse audiences and transgressing generations and artistic taboos through his unique compositions. His practice merges fine art and merchandising with a desire to communicate within the public realm. Originating from the street art world, he is one of the very few artists to have made the passage to the blue-chip contemporary art world and beyond.
KAWS trademark is the soft skull with crossbones and crossed-out eyes. Conceived in the 1990s, it has become his signature iconography, subverting and abstracting popular cartoon figures. The artist absorbs popular imagery to produce works that are semi-familiar, with layers of contradictions and subtleties. His appeal is universal, as also proved by his collaborations that include everything from the Brooklyn Museum to Kanye West and Comme des Garcons. In other words, KAWSome!
Approaching the "Small Lie" monumental sculpture
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive publication and exclusive merchandise, designed especially for YSP by KAWS.
The Longside Gallery display is over but the monumental sculptures at YSP's grounds will be on display until December 2016.
General exhibition view, Longside Gallery
Enjoy more photos from the KAWS exhibition at the image gallery below
Photos © Alexandra Kollaros & Palm Recordings