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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Japan

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rendered in a miniature scale and executed in 2001, the present lot is one of the first versions of the artist’s trademark COMPANION figures to be made in bronze after the release of the COMPANION vinyl toy in 1999 that was created in collaboration with Japan’s Bounty Hunter. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1996, KAWS made a trip to Japan where he stumbled across streetwear contemporaries such as Nigo, Stash and Hiroshi Fujiwara, and began to look to vinyl toys as a source of inspiration. Featuring the signature ‘X-eyes’, the ears and head of a skull and positioning the figure in a squat, KAWS still manages to convey toy-like plushness in his work despite its medium. As he explained, speaking of his artistic practice of blurring the line between toys and sculptures, “to me they involve the same thought process, so it’s funny that when I work big in bronze, it’s called a sculpture, but something I do that’s small and plastic is called a toy” (KAWS, quoted in Carlo McCormick, “From the Streets to TV to Fine Art Galleries, KAWS Is Everywhere’, Paper, 4 November 2013, online.) A bold statement to the classical medium of sculpture, COMPANION confronts the viewer with a character that is arguably the most recognisable yet is imbued with a sense of the uncanny through the skull motif. At once saccharine and peculiar, KAWS challenges cultural boundaries, tapping into the nostalgia of universally cherished cartoon characters and injecting them with emotional undertones. A rare and early work among the artist’s body of sculptural works, and from an edition of only five, COMPANION comprises the ultimate ‘prototype’ which has since attracted a cult of avid collectors that have followed KAWS from the streets into the major galleries and museum exhibitions worldwide.

  • Artist Biography

    KAWS

    American • 1974

    KAWS (b. 1974, Jersey City, New Jersey; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York) is renowned for his prolific body of work that straddles the worlds of art and design to include paintings, murals, graphic and product design, street art, and large-scale sculptures. Over the last two decades KAWS has built a successful career with work that consistently shows his formal agility as an artist, as well as his underlying wit, irreverence, and affection for our times. His refined graphic language revitalizes figuration with both big, bold gestures and playful intricacies.  

    KAWS often appropriates and draws inspiration from pop culture animations, forming a unique artistic vocabulary across mediums. Admired for his larger-than-life sculptures and hardedge paintings that emphasize line and color, KAWS’s cast of hybrid cartoon characters are the strongest examples of his exploration of humanity. As seen in his collaborations with global brands, the artist’s imagery possesses a sophisticated humor and reveals a thoughtful interplay with consumer products. With their broad appeal, KAWS’s artworks are highly sought-after by collectors inside and outside of the art world, establishing him as a uniquely prominent artist and influence in today’s culture.  

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128

COMPANION

2001
signed, dated and numbered 'KAWS..01 2/5' on the underside
bronze
20 x 10 x 5 cm. (7 7/8 x 3 7/8 x 1 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2001, this work is number 2 from an edition of 5.

Estimate
HK$500,000 - 700,000 
€56,800-79,600
$64,100-89,700

Sold for HK$1,187,500

Contact Specialist
Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019