Lot 1061
  • 1061

KAWS | Companion (Resting Place)

Estimate
2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • KAWS
  • Companion (Resting Place)
  • painted aluminum
  • 153.6 (H) by 160 by 203 cm; 60½ (H) by 63 by 80 in.
Executed in 2013, this work is from an edition of 2/3 + 2 APs

Provenance

Galeria Javier Lopez & Fer Frances, Madrid
Acquired from the above by the present owner This work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity issued by the artist's studio and signed by the artist

Exhibited

UK, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, KAWS, 6 February - 12 June 2016 (other edition)
USA, Texas, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; China, Shanghai, Yuz Museum, Where The End Starts, 20 October 2016 - 31 July 2017, pp. 136-9, illustrated in colour (other edition)

Catalogue Note

The most direct reference to the postmodern ideas of the hyperreal and of authorship and originality can be found in KAWS’s recurring sculptural figure (ORIGINALFAKE) COMPANION.

Andrea Karnes



Strikingly iconic and monumental in scale, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) slouches anthropomorphically in a moment of pensive repose – a rare and particularly evocative rendition of KAWS’s ubiquitous COMPANION character. One of only three life-size sculptures plus two artist proofs, the present work was created during the final season of KAWS’s hugely successful brand OriginalFake, which ceased production in 2013 after a seven-year run as the artist shifted his focus towards new ventures. With its body bisected, revealing a colourful cartoon rendering of its anatomy, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) appears lost in thought, staring blankly into space – evoking empathy, humour, as well as a meditative reflection on fragility and pathos of the human condition. With other editions of the work featured in leading institutional venues around the world, including in KAWS’s 2016-2017 solo travelling exhibition WHERE THE END STARTS, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) is a prime example from KAWS’s unique practice and embodies the very best of his pervasive oeuvre.

One of the most prominent heirs of Pop Art, Brooklyn-based artist and designer KAWS (Brian Donnelly) studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. After graduating, he worked briefly as a freelance illustrator before beginning to use the name KAWS as a young graffiti artist in Jersey City. In the 1990s, after moving to New York City, he began to practice “subvertising” to parody and spoof corporate and political advertisements on bus shelters, phone booths and billboards. Gradually, the artist expanded his imagery beyond graffiti, inventing his own host of characters including the three most emblematic: COMPANION, inspired by Mickey Mouse; CHUM, a derivative of the Michelin Man; and ACCOMPLICE, a bunny with long ears. These figureheads became the design bases for limited-edition figurines, vinyl toys, streetwear and eventually even high-end fashion collaborations – infiltrating the realm of mass consumerism and reinventing a truly distinctive visual lexicon that permeates the worlds of contemporary art and popular culture.

COMPANION was one of the first characters created by KAWS. Characterized by the artist’s trademark skull-and-crossbones head with ‘X-eyes’, a signature motif that first appeared in 1996 in a Mickey Mouse-inspired graffiti tag on a Marlboro billboard, COMPANION was also the first of the artist’s characters to be realised in three-dimensional form when KAWS collaborated with Japanese brand Bounty Hunter to produce limited edition vinyl figurines in 1999. Since then, iterations of the character have spearheaded KAWS’s global appeal as an international art world sensation. Whether in toy form or in life-size sculptural form, clad in armour or dissected to expose its internal organs, KAWS’s adorable COMPANION inspires a growing dedicated following from all corners of the world. KAWS himself explains: “He [COMPANION] deals with life the way everyone does” and “is more real in dealing with contemporary human circumstances. He reflects attitudes we all have” (the artist quoted in exh. cat. KAWS: When The End Starts, 2017, p. 5).

Such a resonance of humanity is amplified by KAWS’s explorations in scale, exemplified in KAWS’s life-size or indeed larger-than-life COMPANION sculptures constructed in iconic locations around the globe, such as Qatar’s Hamad International Airport, the High Line in New York, atop the Changsha IFS Tower and in front of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. In a monumental shift of perspective, viewers are rendered toy-like, as if having accidentally stumbled upon an otherworldly realm where cartoons assume a more dominant presence. “[B]y the time I made my first sculpture, I wanted it to look just like the vinyl toys I had already been making. I wanted to see where that puts people’s perspectives,” said KAWS (the artist quoted in Ibid., p. 41). Meanwhile, with its bisected body that exposes the vital organs of a living being, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) questions binaries such as human versus cartoon, life versus death, original versus fake, KAWS’s authorship versus someone else’s (as COMPANION was inspired by the ubiquitous Mickey Mouse). The multitude of connotations is reminiscent of Damien Hirst’s 1993 sculpture Mother and Child (Divided); but while the morbid undertones of COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) are unmistakable, especially with COMPANION’s X-eyes and skull-and-crossbones head, such existential dualities and meditations on the human condition are infused with undeniably playful wit and comical humour – such is the fluid power of KAWS’s wholly unique visual vocabulary. As Andrea Karnes observes: “Regardless of format, aura is intact in KAWS’s figures in each one’s ability to remind us of our poignantly human conditions” (Ibid., p. 35).
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