COMPANION (RESTING PLACE)

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    On his skull-and-bones motif, KAWS explains, “I was interested in that image ‘cause it was limitless in terms of translation: anywhere, in any country, it’s still a skull. You can’t really get more universal than that.”

    Provocatively half dissected and rendered in a sophisticated grey-scale palette, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) monumentalises the beloved character created by Brian Donnelly, one of the most popular artists of his generation, who goes by the pseudonym KAWS. Implementing KAWS’s signature logos, the X replaces one of the eyes, the protruding crossbones, though bisected, signal an ear or hair, while the playfully oversized features provide comedic relief to the underlying tones of existentialism. This work is one of the only few life-size grey sculptures completed during the final season of the artist’s brand OriginalFake. Expressing the namesake duality that encapsulates the allure of KAWS’s work, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) points to an ingenuity that emerges from previously codified figures and concerns executed in a thrilling KAWS-ified twist. In true KAWS fashion, as the visibility of his work increased, and intrigued followers requested more information about the characters, KAWS humorously revealed the literal interior of Companion, instead of providing further details on its psychological or emotional state.

    After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the artist’s work as an illustrator informed his dynamic fascination with the impact of cartoons in modern life. Finding pleasure in tackling assertive marketing characters, KAWS transforms these well-known figures into uncanny and even somewhat sadistic doppelgängers that have grown into idolised emblems in their own right. First appearing in 1996 as a witty graffiti tag on a Marlboro billboard and later becoming the protagonist of a limited-edition vinyl figurine created in collaboration with Japan’s Bounty Hunter in 1999, iterations of the ever-mutable COMPANION have attracted a cult of avid collectors that have followed KAWS from the streets into the major galleries and museum exhibitions surveying his phenomenal work worldwide.

    When KAWS entered the graffiti or “graff” world in the early 1990s before moving on to his interventionist street art, the obliteration of the status of the art object as something elite and unique and the subsequent augmented propensity for dissemination and mobility, exemplified by the works of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, played a key role in shaping his creative output. Considering the concurrent progression of KAWS’s career and the rampant rise of technologies such as computers and the Internet, the artist’s multiplicity of collaborative offerings spanning the realms of fashion, advertising, photography and graphic art, expresses the limitless variants of information spreading and interchanging across the interface of media. Challenging notions of authenticity and originality through its combination of diverse visual sources, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) responds to a reality that interweaves demands for both identity and anonymity, the counterculture of the individual and a desire for transpersonal integration. For KAWS and other post-Pop, post-Minimal artists, art “is not a prison that won’t allow the artist outside its perimeter, but something that is everything and its opposite, an open, endless field in which the versatile person can roam, becoming unclassifiable and unique.” (Germano Celant, “BD and K,” exh. cat. Brian Donnelly, Germano Celant, Gary Panter, Harry Philbrick, and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, KAWS 1993-2010, New York: Rizzoli and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2010, p. 47.)

    Rooted in his earlier mediations of corporate advertisements, the present lot depicts KAWS’s ability to chip away at that which is hidden beneath shiny surfaces while still maintaining an emotional distance allowing viewers to assign their own narratives and beliefs. From his billboard, phone booth, and bus shelter “subvertising” to his partnerships with some of the largest cultural brands including Comme des Garçons, Nike, and Kanye West, KAWS reads the unspoken games of desire and power within images and comments precisely on those veiled messages instead of negating them. COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) exposes the figure’s vital organs and muscles, as an explicit yet equally cryptic way to call into question notions of uniqueness, authorship, and mortality bubbling beneath the smooth exterior of his work.

    Mónica Ramírez-Montagut furthermore posits that perhaps KAWS’s take on popular culture has a political motivation, playing on the fact that it can have a larger impact in shaping our culture and everyday lives than regular politics. She asks, “are Homer Simpson and Spongebob better poised to incorporate and convey the contradictions of our contemporary lifestyle?” Leaving this question unanswered for viewers to ponder, Ramírez-Montagut concludes, KAWS’s works are “gatekeepers’ to a new consciousness, one that challenges homogeneity and hegemonic forces.” (Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, “KAWS: Seeing You Seeing Yourself,” exh. cat. Brian Donnelly, Germano Celant, Gary Panter, Harry Philbrick, and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, KAWS 1993-2010, New York: Rizzoli and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2010, p. 136.)

    While undoubtedly stimulating a sense of surprise and delight, COMPANION (RESTING PLACE) incorporates the best of KAWS in a single colossal work that symbolises a paradigmatic shift in our collective understanding of what art can be.

  • Catalogue Essay

    《同伴(休息處)》是一件灰色調作品,一半身體被解剖開來,頗具挑逗性。此大尺寸作品的主題是當紅藝術家 Brain Donnelly,也就是 KAWS 最喜歡的角色。藝術家的標誌圖案 X 代替了其中一隻眼睛,突出的交叉骨頭一分為二,代表著耳朵或者頭髮,這具有玩味的巨大特徵為隱藏的存在主義調子提供了一種滑稽的緩解。此件作品是藝術家自創潮牌「OriginalFake」最後一季製作的僅有的少數真人比例灰色雕塑的其中之一。KAWS 作品題目以主題加子題的雙重架構也是賦予其作品魅力的一大元素,《同伴(休息處)》指向之前KAWS 式充滿刺激性的藝術手法,呈現一個個如代號般的塑像和概念。隨著其藝術作品漸多的曝光率,好奇的追隨者們亦越來越希望了解更多其創作角色的資料。KAWS 幽默的提供了《同伴》的子題,但並沒有提供關於其內心和情緒狀況的更多細節。

    藝術家於紐約藝術學院畢業後,先進入動畫公司就職,成為了一位繪圖師,這個經驗讓他理解到卡通動畫對世人生活的影響力,啟動了他的創作靈感。KAWS 希望找到一個最具指標性的經典卡通造形;最終選定以米老鼠,作為《同伴》系列作品的參考。KAWS 在處理這些在世人認知度排行榜上名列前茅的角色時得到樂趣,把它們轉變為神秘怪異甚至殘酷的分身,直至這些分身也成為受人追捧的化身。《同伴》第一次於1996年在一塊萬寶路廣告牌上以詼諧塗鴉的方式出現,隨後成為1999年與日本品牌 Bounty Hunter 合作的模型公仔。《同伴》多變的重複性引來一眾熱切的藏家,從街頭走到大型畫廊和博物館展覽,在世界各地輪翻上演其非凡獨有的藝術作品。

    KAWS 在1990年代初進入塗鴉世界,之後才正式開始其以介入主義來創作的街頭藝術。這段時期,安迪·沃荷與凱斯·哈林等人的創作正逐漸抹去藝術品必然高高在上的地位,並因此形成對傳播性和流動性藝術的偏好,這些都對 KAWS產生重要影響。其藝術發展正好碰上電腦、互聯網等科技的迅速冒起,藝術家的多方面創作活動包括時裝、廣告、攝影和平面藝術,經互聯網時代的信息傳遞和互動而發展出無限變化與可能。《同伴(休息處)》結合不同視覺出處,挑戰真實和原創概念,現實社會既需要身份,亦講求匿名性,既崇尚個人化特質,也追求融入大眾,此作品一一對上這些特性。對於 KAWS 等後普普和後極簡藝術家而言,藝術「不是會把藝術家限制在框架以內的監獄,而是所有其相反的,開放、無盡的領域,可以讓有才情的人盡情漫遊,不會被貼標籤,保持其獨立性。」(Germao Celant,〈BD and K〉,展覽圖錄,Brian Donnelly, Germano Celant, Gary Panter, Harry Philbrick, and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut,《KAWS 1993-2010》,紐約:Rizzoli and The Aldrich 當代藝術博物館,2010年,47頁)

    KAWS 事業早期涉獵商業廣告,但此拍賣作品不止有華麗的外表,亦呈現其內涵,並依然保持了情感上的距離,讓觀者自我定義其敘述和觀點。從其對廣告牌、電話亭和公交車站的廣告「破壞」,到他與大型文化品牌如Comme des Garçons、Nike和 Kanye West 的合作,KAWS 都深知圖像對慾望和權力的無聲影響,並對其發出自己的聲音。《同伴(休息處)》揭示了角色的主要器官和肌肉,作為既直白,又隱晦地探討在其作品光滑表像下的獨特性、著作者身份認同與生命的議題。

    Mónica Ramírez-Montagut 更進一步設定 KAWS 對流行文化的表現中包含政治動機,改變我們文化和日常生活的力量比一般政治手法還要強。她問道:「荷馬·辛普森和海綿寶寶是不是更有效地融合與表達我們現今生活方式的矛盾?」Ramírez-Montagut 把這個問題留給讀者,並總結,KAWS 的作品是「新意念的守衛者,挑戰了同質性和霸權主義。」(Mónica Ramírez-Montagut,〈KAWS: 看見你,看見你自己〉,展覽圖錄,Brian Donnelly, Germano Celant, Gary Panter, Harry Philbrick, and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut,《KAWS 1993-2010》,紐約:Rizzoli and The Aldrich 當代藝術博物館,2010年,136頁)《同伴(休息處)》既激起了驚訝和欣喜,並融入了KAWS 最重要的精華於一件巨大的作品中,它引領我們對藝術的集體理解方式正在演變。

    KAWS 對自己作品的骷髏和骨頭圖案解釋道:「我對這個圖像感興趣『因為它在翻譯上沒有界限:到了任何地方,任何國家,它還是一個骷髏,沒有比這個更普世的了。』」(同上,123頁)

  • 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 from a Private Asian Collection

KAWS

COMPANION (RESTING PLACE)

2013
painted aluminum
152.4 x 160 x 203 cm. (60 x 62 7/8 x 79 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2013, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3 plus 2 artist's proofs and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the KAWS studio.

Estimate
HK$4,500,000 - 5,500,000 
€505,000-617,000
$577,000-705,000

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

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Head of Department
+852 2318 2011

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Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018