Advanced bookings are required.
Skarstedt is pleased to present SPOKE TOO SOON, an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by KAWS on view beginning November 5 through December 11, 2021 at Skarstedt 20 East 79th Street.
Within their familiarity and playful lineage, KAWS’ characters are synoptic in their evocations of human emotion – a departure from his colorful 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.