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2018.06.29 Fri, by Ran Dian
KAWS. The Trouble with Brian

An American had done the Louvre in 9 minutes, 45 seconds

Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong (50 Connaught Road, Central, 17th Floor) March 26 – May 19, 2018

KAWS, Brian Donnelly (b.1974) was always an artist, a designer and a brand manager, and KAWS, the New York street artist, was always a brand. Donnelly’s street-art roots were about creating KAWS’s brand-recognition and recognition for a brand (including in the 1990s limited edition collectable vinyl toys—huge in Japan apparently). More recently Donnelly has worked with fashion brands, such as Original Fake, A Bathing Ape, Undercover, Nike, Vans, and Comme des Garçons.

Donnelly makes finely-produced art but without any interest in it being fine art—finely-made and expensive but by no means exclusive. He wants it to carry the cachet of a rap star, sports star, fashion or film icon. Inevitably this runs the risk ofbecomes commercial, in the sense of something that is just consumer product, on cotton canvas for those who can afford it and on cotton T-shirts for those who can’t. Whether you can afford it or not though, each painting is a gumball dispenser of vivid color—a sugar hit that leaves mouths puckered-up, yet nonetheless craving even more sugar.

Really you have to start slowly and then as the sugar takes it’s effect, you accelerate to rush to Bande à partvelocity.

…only instead of racing through the Louvre, you gotta hurtle around in circles.

The recent paintings involve multi-colored splurges that develop on the artist’s previously-established modus operandi: the color smacking you in the eyes—hues that leave searing tracers on the retina.

These paintings have no center and are tricky to unravel, assuming that this is even possible. With a Super-refined design aesthetic and being incredibly, incredibly flat, they vibrate like an old CRT computer monitor.

Yet the ever so slight overlays of areas of colored lines and planes are just noticeable enough to pull these paintings back into the real world.

How to sum it up? Let me quote a Beijing curator:

“What’s wrong with it? I think it is cute, naive and totally harmless decoration bought by people who like just that. I think it is a case of very successful communication.”

NOTE: No images from the exhibition are included in this article. 

An old CRT monitor

An old CRT monitor