KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Sunday, November 25, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    BAPE Gallery, Tokyo
    Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 20 January 2016, lot 9
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, BAPE Gallery, Original Fake, 1 March - 25 April 2003

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Do you know that series of package paintings that I did? That was because I saw that these guys in Japan were collecting toys. I had friends that were spending $3,000 on a Star Wars prototype figure. They weren’t collecting art, they were collecting toys. So I did those package paintings where I mass-produced the packaging around the painting, but the painting itself was done individually. That was my way of bridging the gap between those two worlds. Because I realized that these guys are absolute connoisseurs of the stuff they collect. They can look at a toy and say, Oh, this is a 76. It came out in three versions. It occurred to me that that kind of obsessive collecting isn’t any different than art.”
    (KAWS, quoted in Tobey Maguire, ‘KAWS’, Interview Magazine, 27 April 2010, online)

    A few of the first 40 package paintings ever created for the 2003 Original Fake exhibition at the BAPE Gallery in Tokyo, these works were inspired by Japan’s toy collecting scene – KAWS’ unique attempt to bridge the gap between the toy and art collecting realms. Whilst the plastic packaging was mass-produced, each painting was created individually, reflecting on how similar toy collectors were to their art counterparts in seeing value in items produced in limited quantities.

    Reinterpreting recognisable characters from popular culture with his signature skull and crossed eyes, the CHUM character is also one of the KAWS’s oldest and most iconic characters. Having been exhibited by NIGO (founder of A Bathing Ape, one of the most notorious names in Japanese street fashion in the 90s) also highlights how the artist emerged from an urban streetwear and commercial culture into art in the same way the packaged painting was conceptualised.

  • Artist Biography


    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.  

    View More Works



signed and dated 'KAWS..02' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas with plastic packaging
package: 25.8 x 18.9 cm. (10 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.)
canvas: 15.4 x 13 cm. (6 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.)

Executed in 2002.

HK$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for HK$750,000

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

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Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2018