KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Sunday, November 24, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    AT THIS TIME presents KAWS’ signature COMPANION figure standing alone with his head tilted backwards and his eyes sunk in his hands. The COMPANION’s posture conveys myriad, contradicting emotions- spanning disbelief, rest, isolation and playfulness. Captured in a state of isolation, COMPANION appears sad and alone – in a complete paradox to its name. Yet when seen through a child’s eyes, the character’s pose transforms into a playful expression, redolent of the childhood game of hide-and-seek. From play to retreat, invitation to isolation, the COMPANION’s pose conjures a poignant vulnerability that summons empathy from its viewers.

    At once whimsical and psychologically charged, the domestic sized sculpture invites viewers into a visual universe that is infused with KAWS’ instantly recognisable cartoon imagery. Enamoured with the world of cartoons to the point of creating his own graphic figures, KAWS designed his first COMPANION character in 1999, which initially took the form of a small-scale figurine. Executed in bronze and painted in the artist’s classic grey colourway, the present lot exemplifies KAWS’ rise to the canon of contemporary art, encapsulating the artist’s visual language that oscillates between popular culture and fine art.

  • 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.  

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stamped with the artist name, date of work and edition number '5/25 KAWS..16' on the underside
bronze and paint
27.8 x 13.4 x 8.5 cm. (10 7/8 x 5 1/4 x 3 3/8 in.)
Executed in 2016, this work is number 5 from an edition of 25 plus 5 artist's proofs.

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,187,500

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019