This first solo museum exhibition of the work of Brooklyn-based artist and designer Brian Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS, includes his most recent paintings, sculptures, and drawings, as well as a survey of his iconic street art, apparel, product and graphic designs at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in CT.
KAWS’s first aesthetic influences came from skateboarding, as did his familiarity with New York City. Around 1991, he started marking his name in different areas of New Jersey and Manhattan. By the time he finished high school, he was mostly focused on graffiti and started intervening on advertising billboards. While exploring new strategies and locations for his work, he obtained a tool for opening bus shelter advertisement boxes. This allowed KAWS to seize the posters, integrate his work, and then replace them. He added an inflated skull with crossed bones and X-ed-out eyes; sometimes the skull was part of a serpentine-looking body that wrapped around the models, a blend that was humorous and daring. Word got around, and when it came to the point where the posters were pulled down and collected almost as soon as KAWS had replaced them, he decided to move on. Next he channeled his creativity into his studio practice, as well as products he developed and distributed on his own and in his boutique in Tokyo, OriginalFake, in partnership with Medicom Toy.