Art Journal: KAWS Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, NGV International

“It’s just a combination of letters I liked. And when your whole art’s based on the lettering you choose, you kinda figure out what ones work together. I just liked the shapes of the k, a, w, s. It has no meaning.” -KAWS aka Brian Donnelly

Brian Donnelly, or you might be more familiar with his “artist” name, KAWS, is a New York based artists. His works span from traditional painting, giant sculpture, murals exhibited all over the world in a public space as well as in a gallery space. In my opinion, KAWS arts are not limited to the stereotypical art box, he certainly pushes the boundaries of what art can be. When a random giant Mickey Mouse-like giant inflatable sculpture floats around Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, you know his artwork goes beyond the white walls of a gallery.

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KAWS most certainly tapped into the pulse of current trends and society, his artworks speaks to current generation in a way that perhaps no artist have done before. Alongside his exhibition in National Gallery of Victoria, KAWS created limited edition T-shirts design in collaboration with Uniqlo. The small act of adding a line of fashion merchandise in collaboration with the exhibition’s sponsor caused a relatively small chaos on the 4-storeys Uniqlo store in the centre of Melbourne CBD. The hype beasts are all out and ready, lining up for hours to get their hands on these limited edition T-shirt because they know the re-sale value of any KAWS merchandise can be absolutely ridiculous.

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Yes, Astroboy, I totally agree with your expression here. Face palm indeed. It might a phenomenon I will not and to some extend, do not care to understand. I wonder if half of these hype beasts even enjoy KAWS, the artist, or do they perhaps know him as a designer. Perhaps the same way they know Virgil Abloh of Off-White. His exhibition in National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, is quite conceptual and showcases many of his famous works. The curator had done an amazing job arranging KAWS artworks, from the beginning of his “graffiti” on advertisements to his larger than life sculpture he created exclusively for this exhibition.

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Is it art? Is it a mere imitations? Is he a genius? Is he a mere copycat who banked on the phenomenal success of other creatives? These are some of the questions I walked away with after my visit to the exhibition. The artist, Brian Connelly, does not seem to pay too much fuss of what you think about his work. Perhaps similar to the way he choose his “artist” name, maybe he just creates and not put too much meaning into his creations.

-k

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