KAWS (Brian Donnelly, American, born 1974) DOWN TIME, 2011
KAWS is a pseudonym created by Brian Donnelly in the early 1990s which was initially recognized in New York City in connection with graffiti art, and quickly became associated with ambitious murals that subverted billboards and other public advertisements. These modified ads possessed the quality of collaboration since they both complemented and challenged existing imagery, and ultimately they led to actual collaborations with other artists and designers such as fashion photographer David Sims.
DOWN TIME is an expression used to describe personal or recreational time spent away from daily cares and responsibilities. In this painting, it also suggests a word play that refers to the gravitational pull downward of the painting’s imagery. KAWSBOB’s face is shown in extreme close-up and is barely discernible through the disorderly tumbling of rectangular forms. His eyes seem camouflaged by the falling debris but are recognizable by the colorful X’s across their pupils, while his teeth become part of the geometric abstraction of forms in the lower portion of the painting. KAWS includes an allusion to the artist H. C. Westermann’s character of an old sea captain, shown in yellow on the right. Westermann’s character is the skipper of a ghost ship which lends this painting an aura of dark destiny.
Born in 1974 in New Jersey, KAWS graduated with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has recently had solo exhibitions at The Aldrich Museum, Galerie Perrotin in Paris, and Galeria Javier Lopez in Madrid. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Torrance Art Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Arts Center, San Francisco, and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. In addition to the recent solo exhibition titled DOWN TIME that was on view at the High from February 18 - July 29, 2012, KAWS has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which is also titled DOWN TIME. The painting DOWN TIME was created for the High’s exhibition and was purchased through funds provided by patrons of the Third Annual Collectors' Evening, 2012.