The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) presents KAWS: FAR FAR DOWN, an exhibition of new works by the multifaceted artist. KAWS will create a unique painting on the museum’s Project Wall to serve as a specially designed background for a series of large-scale paintings. The unveiling of a new bronze sculpture in CAM’s courtyard will complete the exhibition. FAR FAR DOWN will be on view May 5 through August 13, 2017.
KAWS’s signature imagery emerged in the early 1990s, when the artist painted over existing advertisements in metropolises around the world. His embrace of pop-culture icons has defined his distinct visual language and has facilitated an engagement with a global audience. Encompassing realms of both art and design, KAWS’s success has extended into international collaborations with such brands as Comme des Garçons, Nike, Supreme, and Uniqlo.
The animated pleasures of his artwork are imbued with unexpected emotional power. KAWS’s characters—with X’s for eyes and often presented in moments of emotional exposure—draw profound links between popular culture, commercialization, and the human condition. Rather than pose a critique of mass culture, however, KAWS makes associations with a wide audience through his identifiable imagery. KAWS incorporates a playful style with a serious formal aesthetic, an artist for whom a dedication to craft, a respect for the handmade, and a lightness of spirit, all conjoin.
The life-size bronze sculpture TOGETHER, to be first shown in CAM’s courtyard, is immediately endearing, and at the same time evokes real pathos and contemplation. The paintings on view on the Project Wall deliver a sustained visual experience out of distinctive patterns and vibrant colors, with barely recognizable popular figures inlaid within the scene as deceptively as camouflage. In the painting FAR FAR DOWN, the title implies physical or emotional descent, although the concealed forms within the work are open to conjecture.
KAWS (b. 1974, Jersey City, New Jersey; lives and works in Brooklyn), has exhibited internationally in major museums and galleries. His most recent solo exhibitions include KAWS: WHERE THE END STARTS at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Yuz Museum, Shanghai; KAWS: GISWIL at More Gallery, Giswil, Switzerland; Galerie Perotin, Seoul, Korea; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Longside Gallery (2016). His work has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the High Art Museum. KAWS received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts
KAWS is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director.