Last Saturday I visited Galerie Perrotin in Marais, Paris and saw three different solo exhibitions: KAWS’ “IMAGINARY FRIENDS”, Daniel Arsham’s “STORM” and Guy Limone’s “Espace Public”.
Brian Donnelly aka KAWS is a New York -based artist who started his artistic career as a graffiti artist in New Jersey. “Later moving to New York City in the 1990s, KAWS started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. These reworked advertisements were at first left alone, lasting for up to several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after”
“KAWS is many things to many audiences. He is an artist, a collector, a designer, a brand, a celebrity, and an entrepreneur. These multiple identities, which are both autonomous and interdependent at the same time, point toward an interconnectedness in contemporary culture between real and virtual worlds, between the personal and the public – art, technology, life and the seamless relationship between and among them in the era of social media. Boundaries between people, places, and things today are fluid and porous giving rise to a new visual language that facilitates a dynamic social and cultural exchange. KAWS speaks this language, incorporating familiar images in his work, which in their different permutations function as a multiplicity of signs and symbols that communicate all at once something new and strange.
His work is multilayered with art historical associations and allusions that betoken a practice motivated by recent art history, shaped by a keen understanding of how images function emotionally and intellectually, and driven by a passionate, almost existential relish for painting. For example, works by KAWS recall the early Hardedge abstractions of Stella and Noland, or the serial repetition of Warhol, or perhaps also the frenetic energy of Lichtenstein’s diagonal stripes and Benday patterns. You can trace the multiple strands of influence in KAWS elsewhere – from the sophisticated formal conventions of Japanese woodblock prints to the sensational imagery of postwar graphic design in Japan, to the irreverent delight of the Chicago Imagists and their Bay area counterparts in everything grotesque and raunchy. “
Daniel Arsham was raised in Miami but lives and works in New York. “Arsham’s work blurs the lines between art, architecture and performance, and explores issues of natural versus manufactured or intention versus happenstance. Through sculpture, drawing and performance, Arsham challenges our perceptions of physical space in order to make architecture perform the improbable. The surfaces of walls appear to melt, erode and ripple. Animals contemplate the emergence of floating shapes in nature. Sculptures from antiquity are infused with rigid, geometric forms.”
“In August of 1992, Daniel Arsham was nearly killed in a hurricane in Miami. This being the 20th anniversary of that event, the experience has provided the initial inspiration for this exhibition titled STORM. Witnessing the dramatic and destructive possibilities of nature and its impact on human constructions, Arsham has created a new series of his architectural interventions that expand on his ability to make architecture perform the unexpected.
In much of the work in the show, Arsham takes the destructive energy he observed in the storm and reforms it to new and imaginative purposes, creating an uncanny context though aberrant perceptions : a clock moves on the wall creating folds that partially conceal it (“Sideways clock”) ; a wall as a sheet blows over a figure (“Hiding Figure”); a mirror disappears behind a moving wall (“Mirror Slit”).
After the hurricane, there was broken glass everywhere in Arsham’s home and all of the framed works on the walls were destroyed. A number of new self-portraits reform the broken glass back into sculptural objects. The moon features as an essential motif in this exhibition. In particular, in his paintings in gouache on mylar, where the moon is altered to contain rectilinear excavations. During the month that Arsham lived without electricity after the storm the moon appeared prominently in the sky at night and the memory of the storm is linked with the glowing of the moon at night.”
“Guy Limone’s works depict with humour an attempt to make an inventory of the things around us, a desire to encompass the world, to tire it as Perec does in “La Vie mode d’emploi”. Guy Limone reinterprets in a playful way the most diverse and absurd statistics by the accumulation of hand-painted figurines supposed to personify the studied population. Therefore, the contrast between the wanted seriousness of the analysed data and the accumulation of miniature characters on a tense string for example, reveals a disembodied and anonymous humanity – “In 2010, one on five human being does not have any access to drinking water” (2010) ; “In 2006 China produced 38% of worlds coal production” (2008) ; “In 2010, people under 15 years old represent 30% of the world’s population” (2010).”
Permanent collection: Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled 2001 – Couple of miniature elevators.
Tuesday – Saturday 11am-7pm
76, rue de Turenne 75003 Paris