FINAL DAYS

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sculpted from a gorgeous dark brown African hardwood and weighing in at a half tonne, FINAL DAYS is an exemplary work by the intrepid KAWS. The artist’s classic revisions of iconic popular culture characters are not only immediately recognisable but are also in the spotlight now more than ever. Featuring KAWS’s idolised alterations applied to a hatless Kurf, the present lot showcases the unmistakable crossed-out eyes, bones imitating hair and ears, distorted mouth and impeccable fabrication that characterise the artist’s signature work. Though he is internationally known for his compelling cross-pollination of distinct imagery, materials, and cultural references, KAWS raises the stakes considerably incorporating for the first time the richly coloured, extremely durable afrormosia to articulate FINAL DAYS. Imbued with the spiritual energy of the historic lumber, this novel combination of timeless dark hardwood and contemporary iconography first debuted at the artist’s major 2014 exhibition of the same name at the Contemporary Art Centre of Málaga.

    The charisma of FINAL DAYS emanates from its uncanny relatability as the work represents one of the artist’s most convincing explorations into the inner-world of humanity. Lumbering towards the viewer with its arms held out, the character featured in the work adopts a gait and expression that distances the piece from any association with the innocent world of fantasy and childhood. Eliciting sensations of melancholy and loss, FINAL DAYS conveys feelings inherent to the human condition that are balanced with the artist’s sophisticated sense of humour and charming cartoon aesthetic. Though KAWS states that his work “is a mirror of his own state of mind… and a way of understanding the world around him,” (KAWS quoted by Arie Bouman, "KAWS at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth," 11 January 2017) he further elucidates, "it’s not important for me to impose those thoughts on the viewer. I would much rather have the work find new meaning to the people that take the time to view it. I don’t make work with any specific audience in mind." (KAWS interviewed by Grace Banks, "Kanye West-favourite KAWS Exhibits His Sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park," Forbes, 29 February 2016)

    While the masterful Warholian-style re-appropriation of pop icons in FINAL DAYS stems from the artist’s early venture into the visual culture of New York City street art, the present lot truly emerges from the deep-seated respect for craftsmanship and the world of collecting as a mode of identity construction that KAWS encountered when he travelled to Japan in 1996. The integrity of craft in Japan inspired a new way of thinking for the artist. According to KAWS, “artists like [Takashi] Murakami… really opened up a lot of doors on acceptance and crossover projects.” (KAWS interviewed by Tobey Maguire, "KAWS," Interview Magazine, 27 April 2010) In response to the conventional distinction between “toys” and “sculptures,” KAWS clarifies, “to me it’s the same thing… I always thought it was funny how people like to put things in categories and label them… in the end, my thought process is the same.” (KAWS quoted in "KAWS," Modern Painters vol. 25, no. 10, November 2013, p. 31-32) To create this larger-than-life wooden sculpture, KAWS had cut the wood pieces in Amsterdam before shipping them to Maastricht for hand-finishing, making FINAL DAYS a truly global work of art. This level of expertise and precision furthermore extends from the artist’s admiration of Jeff Koons, whom KAWS commends, “I appreciate his perfectionist mentality. It’s so over the top.” (KAWS interviewed by Tobey Maguire, "KAWS," Interview Magazine, 27 April 2010)

    KAWS’s ruthlessly honed works have carved out a unique path in the international art world assimilating Pop Art and abstraction. Whether in reaction to the recognisable figures from childhood cartoons or the empathetic tendencies of his many characters, KAWS’s prolific work speaks beyond pop culture.

  • Catalogue Essay

    《末日》這件作品採用了深褐色的非洲硬木,重達半公噸,可視為KAWS之代表作。藝術家重新詮釋流行文化的經典手法,在此顯得愈加鮮明。KAWS以偶像化的方式將角色克夫變成沒有戴著帽子,眼睛是其慣用的X型符號,頭髮及耳朵看起來則像是骨頭的形狀,變形的嘴部及精細的作工,皆俱備了KAWS代表性的特色。KAWS在國際藝壇為人稱道的是在於他能巧妙地跨界圖像、材質及文化典故,在此,藝術家更進一步地自我挑戰,首次採用了色調深沉、質地堅韌的非洲柚木來創作《末日》這件雕塑。憑藉著歷史悠久的木材所挾帶的精神能量,KAWS創新結合了穿越時間的黑色硬木及當代圖像,這件作品首次在2014年馬拉加當代藝術中心的同名展覽中亮相。

    《末日》這件雕塑的魅力源於讓人能與自身連結的奇妙力量,成功展現出藝術家對人類內心世界最令人折服的探索。作品中人物展開雙臂呈現在觀眾面前,然而他的步履和表情,卻與純真的幻想世界和童年產生了一種斷層。《末日》不僅抒發了憂鬱和失落感,同時也傳達出藝術家獨到的幽默、讓人著迷的卡通式美學,以及和人類共同的心理狀態之間所揣摩出的平衡點。雖然KAWS曾言,他的作品「是反映他內心狀態的一面鏡子…以及去理解他所處的世界的一個方法」(摘錄自亞莉‧布曼所著《KAWS在福特沃斯當代美術館》,2017年1月11日),他作出更進一步解釋:「把想法強加到觀眾身上對我來說一點也不重要。我寧願作品能為每個不同觀看的人帶來不同的意義。我的作品並不是特地為某種觀眾所創作的。」(摘錄自KAWS與葛瑞思‧班克絲之面談《肯伊‧威斯特的最鍾愛的藝術家KAWS於約克郡雕塑公園展出雕塑》,福布斯雜誌,2016年2月29日)。

    安迪‧沃荷式的普普圖像在《末日》固然清晰可見,這與藝術家早期探索紐約市街頭藝術的視覺文化有高度關聯。然而KAWS在1996年遊歷日本,見識到當地精湛工藝以及透過收藏來建立身分地位的社會,因而他在這件作品中也傳達了他對於在日本所見所聞的深刻敬意。日本工藝對於完美始終如一的追求,激發了藝術家的新思維方式。他曾言:「像村上(隆)等藝術家,著實為人們的接受度及跨界創作開啟了無數的大門。」(摘錄自KAWS與托比‧馬奎爾之面談《KAWS》,Interview雜誌,2010年4月27日)。而對於傳統眼光裡「玩具」及「雕塑」之間的差異,他近一步解釋:「對我來說是一樣的…我總覺得很有趣,人們喜歡把事物歸類然後貼上標籤…但終究而言,我的思考過程都是一樣的。」(摘錄自《KAWS》現代畫家雜誌,25冊,第10期,2013年11月,第31-32頁)。為了創作這件比真人比例來得大的木雕,KAWS先在阿姆斯特丹將木材切好,才在馬斯特里赫特以手工刻製完成,《末日》也可說是一件行遍全球的作品了。作品展現出高度的專業及精準,這也得益於藝術家對傑夫‧昆斯的欽佩,他讚揚道:「我欣賞他的完美主義心態,它是如此的極致。」(摘錄自KAWS與托比‧馬奎爾之面談《KAWS》,Interview雜誌,2010年4月27日)。

    KAWS精雕細琢的諸多作品,在國際藝壇開發出一條揉合了普普藝術及抽象藝術的嶄新途徑,無論是以童年卡通中熟知的角色來著手創作,或是從他本身多重性格的移情書寫,KAWS豐富的作品從流行文化出發,也超越了流行文化。

  • Artist Bio

    KAWS

    American • 1974

    To understand the work of KAWS is to understand his roots in the skateboard and graffiti crews of New York City. Brian Donnelly chose KAWS as his moniker to tag city streets beginning in the 1990s, and quickly became a celebrated standout in the scene. Having swapped spray paint for explorations in fine art spanning sculpture, painting and collage, KAWS has maintained a fascination with classic cartoons, including Garfield, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons, and reconfigured familiar subjects into a world of fantasy. 

    Perhaps he is most known for his larger-than-life fiberglass sculptures that supplant the body of Mickey Mouse onto KAWS' own imagined creatures, often with 'x'-ed out eyes or ultra-animated features. However, KAWS also works frequently in neon and vivid paint, adding animation and depth to contemporary paintings filled with approachable imagination. There is mass appeal to KAWS, who exhibits globally and most frequently in Asia, Europe and the United States.  

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Property of an Important Private Collector

KAWS

FINAL DAYS

2014
Afrormosia wood
210 x 195 x 137 cm. (82 5/8 x 76 3/4 x 53 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2014, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3 and 2 artist's proofs.

Estimate
HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000 
€323,000-538,000
$385,000-641,000

sold for HK$5,620,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department
+852 2318 2011

Sandy Ma
Head of Sale
+852 2318 2025

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2018