These new works privilege form over image, referencing the history of animation as well as gestural abstract painting from the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing from the family of Peanuts characters invented by Charles Schulz, KAWS has created layered abstractions and shaped paintings made on canvas stretched over wood panels that mimic the silhouettes of these familiar characters. KAWS’s exclusive use of black and white emphasizes line and form, calling more attention to the abstractions the work proposes than to the characters themselves. Though the characters are blown so far out of proportion that they are nearly unrecognizable in the abstract compositions, KAWS leaves just enough information for us to identify his subjects, underscoring the ubiquity of these figures and the power of the repetition of images to enter the popular imagination. This body of work expands upon KAWS’s ideas around the power of images to communicate beyond expected realms. Through his stylized adaptations of icons of American animation, he accesses a collective consciousness to mirror our addiction to the culture industry.
In summer 2015, Honor Fraser Gallery will publish MAN’S BEST FRIEND, a new monograph documenting KAWS’s 2014 exhibition at the gallery.
KAWS was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1974 and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1996. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. One person exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX (2011 and forthcoming in 2016); Newcomb Art Gallery at Woldenburg Art Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA (2015); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Málaga, Spain (2014); Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS (2013); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2013); High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2011 and 2012); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2010 and 2011); and MU Art Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2002). KAWS has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Art in the Streets, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2011); The Reflected Gaze – Self Portraiture Today, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA (2010); Plastic Culture, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, UK (2010); and Beautiful Losers, Le Tri Postal, Lille, France; Palazzo dell’Arte, Milan, Italy; USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL; Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2004).