BLACKOUT coincides with KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, which follows a further solo presentation, ALONE AGAIN, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Both exhibitions foreground the emotional content of the artist’s work, which is further explored in the forthcoming show at Skarstedt.
In this new series of paintings, KAWS retains his colourful acrylic palette. His seemingly abstract compositions contain figurative elements that suggest traps, pathways, bridges and boundaries. This imagery alludes to the artist’s underlying concern about the divisions within and across societies. He reminds us that despite living in a time of connectivity and constant communication we are separated by the toxic nature of current political and public discourse that also permeates social media.
Paintings such as OLD MYTHS and IT TAKES WHAT IT NEEDS, show the artist reflecting further upon what separates us and leads to our deep sense of isolation and social dislocation but, with the references to pathways, also suggests the need to find ‘a way through’.
With the sculptures KAWS uses two of his characters to convey opposing human attitudes. In the sculpture TAKE, the BFF holds a child Companion defensively, pulling it back in a gesture of mistrust as if to prevent someone else from touching it; the child cowed looks to the ground, the fear is transferred. In SHARE, the Companion is secure and looks outward, holding but not attached to the toy in its hand. KAWS’ figures, as ever, poignantly reveal to us the human condition in the contemporary world and also offer an alternative way of being.