Author: BRAINDONNELLY KAWS（布莱恩·唐纳利）
Signed and dated: Painted in 2013
Final Price: RMB 8,500,000
Todd Kramer Gallery
KAWS is one of the most important Contemporary artists of our time. He transforms the icons or popular culture into approachable, easily recognized cartoon imageries and becomes widely celebrated for his unique interventions. Since 2012, while continuing to explore the potential of his style, the artist began to submit his characters into various abstraction processes. Through a series of blowing up, skewing and rearranging, the characters become unidentifiable. Such creations embody profound influences of artists from1950’s Pop Art movement, as well as those of Post Painterly Abstraction from 1960’s, revitalizing the fields of both abstraction and figuration. Impressive in its size, Untitled is a quintessential example of KAW’s canon of works. Boldly rendered in saturated colors like fuchsia, salmon and bright aqua, the artist paints a dynamic picture though decomposition and reorganization. For this particular series of works, KAWS often selects fragments of the facial features of the classic cartoon characters, reduce them to a logo-like representation that is concise, yet still conveys the emotions and essence of the character. In Untitled, the cracked teeth, rounded nose and bulging round eyes with three lashes attached seems to suggest characteristics of SpongeBob SquarePants, whereas the dotted salmon pink edges resonate to the look of Patrick Star. The “X” marks within the eyes also stand out – in classic cartoons, the “X” often appears on the eyes of characters that are intoxicated. KAWS clearly takes inspiration from that and thereof adds a layer of dark humor and mischief to the image. For the spectators, an image of such initially brings intuitive sense of familiarity, while a tinge of uncertainty and surprise also arises as the picture is incomplete. KAWS, in his artistic practice, persists in using reoccurring character and repetitive patterns. Through dissonances, changes and color variations, the artist stimulates the viewers’ imagination. The seriality and variation of familiar items or characters over and over again, traces all the way back to Pop Art traditions, where Andy Warhol turns the banal image of Campbell’s soup can in to an ever-repeating cultural icon, or the countless colorways of one Marilyn Monroe photograph.
Also in 2012, KAWS embarked on his first serious incursions into the exploration of shaped canvas. In addition to the circular “tondo paintings” and the sliced-up vertical paintings, the artist also created a series of canvases shaped in cartoon characters or animals. Such irregular artworks call into mind the minimal works of Frank Stelle and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as their color blocks that extends out of the picture frame. Once the artist breaks the limitations, the sculptural qualities in a flat image evoke. While embracing the 1960’s artistic approaches, KAWS mixes his witty ideas in the artwork – instead of rendering and deriving directly within the factorial field, KAWS fills fragmented silhouettes that are irrelevant to one another. Therefore, Untitled is paradoxical in its own way, given that the surface is smoothly two-dimensional and yet, with meticulous planning, they gain a physical presence. With the borders of the canvas carefully painted, the painting now seems to inhabit the weight of the high relief in its own materiality and existence.
Although Untitled is intricately composed with a wide arrange of colors and details, the traces of the artist’s brushstrokes remain subtle and unnoticeable. This originates from KAW’s maticulous attention to details and his continuous pursuit of accuracy. Having graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, KAWS was a freelance animator at Jumbo Pictures and participated in the production of various Disney movies including 101 Dalmatians. In the early 1990’s, KAWS started making graffities in the streets of New York and left his marks on the telephone booths, bus stops, and billboards, slowly forming his clean lines, breezy style, as well as the high-impact visual language. This bright, dynamic and humorous painting not only embodies the artist’s quest in aesthetic growth, but also a culmination of his exquisite style.