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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

The world-renowned artist is bringing his vivid murals and large-scale pop culture sculptures to the NGV.
By Libby Curran
September 17, 2019
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Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

The world-renowned artist is bringing his vivid murals and large-scale pop culture sculptures to the NGV.
By Libby Curran
September 17, 2019
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The National Gallery of Victoria's 2019 program continues to pull in the big guns, with an ever-growing lineup of internationally acclaimed artists — including Keith Haring and Jean-Michael Basquiat — heading to the gallery. And from Friday, September 20, that list will include Brooklyn-based Kaws (aka Brian Donnelly), who's bringing his instantly recognisable pop-culture sculptures to Aus.

Kaws is best known for his large-scale sculptures, vivid murals and distinctive, pop culture-inspired characters. You're probably familiar with his reinterpretations of iconic figures like Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and The Smurfs, all reworked with those signature Xs over the eyes.

While it's a stable of work that's laced with a healthy dose of humour, this NGV exhibition, entitled Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, focuses on the rest of those underlying emotions. You'll get a glimpse at how KAWS celebrates generosity and explores our need for companionship, offering up an antidote to the world's current 'Age of Loneliness'.

Off the back of solo exhibitions at the Yuz Museum Shanghai and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2017, as well as the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation earlier this year, Kaws' NGV presentation has plenty of never-before-seen goodies. It features a sprawling collection of his pop culture reworkings, human-size figures and collaborative pieces, while a newly commissioned monumental work will be the artist's largest bronze sculpture to date: Gone (2019), a seven-metre-tall bronze sculpture standing imposingly in the NGV's Federation Court.

The main event is be backed by Kaws: Playtime – an interactive, touch-focused installation centred around Kaws' bright blue BFF character, complete with soft sculptures and a hands-on multimedia game. While it's created for 'children', we'll sure you'll find a few kidults exploring it, too.

Top images: Kaws, Gone (2019); Kaws, What Party (2019); Kaws, Kawsbob (2007); and installation views of Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness at the NGV International. All photos by Tom Ross.

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