This past weekend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) opened its doors to unveil the much anticipated exhibition by KAWS. The show featured 70 works (old & new) at the historic institution and included both paintings and sculptures that spans some major milestones of the artist’s storied career to date.
As previewed, the artist adorned the main entrance of the historic landmark building with a brand new nine foot sculpture entitled Born to Bend featuring his iconic “Bendy” character wrapped around a stark silouette of another childhood icon “GUMBY.” Once you get inside it gets even more interesting as KAWS remixes PAFA’s method of displaying art. Instead of carving out a space to show his contemporary artwork, the artist choose to blend in with his surroundings and works with his environment. From the simple placement of his impressive Companion, Dissected, Accomplice and Chum sculptures in the museum’s main vestibule to an open light room where KAWS thoughtfully hung 42 paintings & sculptures in an effort to “reflect” the museum’s distinguished collection hung in an interactive “saloon” style, there isn’t a detail that is missed with this show.
That’s not the end of it though. A series of ginormous tondo’s line the main hallway to greet visitors and impresses with a sense scale that we rarely feel from most exhibitions. Another notable aspect of this showcase is the return of KAWS’ remarkable Kimpsons series as select paintings where displayed giving the lucky viewers in Philadelphia an unforgettable tour of where KAWS came from in the early parts of 2000. We also caught an old friend as the title piece from his first show The Long Way Home with Honor Fraser made its return for public viewing. It is inspiring to see one of the early silhouette abstraction paintings by the artist as it now plays prominently in the current bodies of work. On view are also two large scale abstraction paintings from the artist’s last solo exhibition in Galerie Perrotin’s Paris space.
Overall, it a very exciting & satisfying way to enjoy the fruits of KAWS’ labor over the past decade as this comprehensive showcase almost feels like a mid career survey. The show will be up for the rest of the 2014 so if you happen to be in the Tri-State area, be sure to try and check out this amazing exhibition as it’s definitely worth the short drive.
Discuss KAWS here.