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Artist Spotlight - Kaws


KAWs embarked his journey into the professional world of art as a Graffiti artist. Amongst some of his initial accomplishments are street-styled art designs on billboards, phone booths and bus stops. In his struggle to rise to prestige and proficiency, KAWs collaborated with Nike, Undercover, Original Flake, NIGO, Supreme, Medicom Toy, A Bathing Ape, Jun Takahashi, Comme des Garcons and Michael “Mic” Neumann.

Brian Donnelly takes up his pseudonym as KAWs and is an established, young artist based in New York. After being recognized for his teeming talents and phenomenal potentials, Brian Donnelly or, KAWs introduced his very own signature style of artistic, cartoon sculptures with limited edition vinyl toys.

KAWs’ work is acknowledged and exhibited in the gallery of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) which is quite a noteworthy achievement on his behalf as it features a great number of historic collections that attribute traditional as well as modern artistic principles inspired by the Realists and the Modernists. In comparison to the collections at PAFA, KAWs’ work is bizarrely outrageous in terms of its use of color and its level of vibrancy.

KAWs’ “Accomplice” series has gained quite a reputation ever since it was projected in the preeminent halls of PAFA. The series boasts a sequence of marble cartoon structures including two, lofty figures that are alien to the human race and complex in nature to understand. The figures have saggy, almost bunny-like ears. Of the two, the first one is pitch-black in color and has contrasting colors that signify internal organs, explicitly to create a contrast of the human anatomy. However, the concept runs much deeper in understanding and comprehension, shedding light on the two sides of the nickel- the surface and what lies underneath, the disguise and the reality- by representing the cartoon figures with and without the coverage of skin (represented by the charcoal coating) on either sides.


The lighter note of this art marvel is the inspiration sought from childhood superstars such as Mickey Mouse and Vaudevillian that is apparent through the massive feet and the gloved hands. But despite the earth-deep concepts and the mastery of visual representation, the most striking element of KNAW’s work, which shortly became his signature style, is the ‘X’ on the eyes of the cartoons that instigates a sublime yet observable darkness and dauntiness about his work.

More of KAWs’ works include a cultural diversity, taking inspirations from Japanese aesthetics and using bright, acrylics in his Tondos series (a series of 3 untitled works) as well as the American favorite animated TV series and sitcom, The Simpsons.

Most of KAWs’ work has a hint of morbidity in it with his use of the thrilling ‘X’ and petrifying boney head structures that are symbolic for death and danger.