by Sukanya GargJan 03, 2020
American street artist and toy designer, KAWS, presented his enormous new inflatable artwork in Taipei, his first in the Taiwanese capital, in January 2019. The 11-story sculpture is his largest and most technically ambitious work to date.
At more than 110-feet tall, the sculpture depicts a seated variant of his signature character Companion, a playful Mickey Mouse-like figure with a skull and crossbones for his head. The work was on view in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall from January 19-27, 2019.
The work was brought to Taiwan through the efforts of Singaporean singer-songwriter and KAWS collector, JJ Lin, whose production company JFJ Productions handled the project in collaboration with the Hong Kong-based creative studio, AllRightsReserved.
KAWS, who has a large following in Asia, presented the sculpture in a series of social media posts showing its impressive scale. He noted it would be hard to install a work of its size ’without someone leaking images’.
The exhibition titled KAWS: HOLIDAY opened with a limited edition run of collectible vinyl figures of the large-scale work in three versions - a ceramic plate set, five variants of t-shirts, and three kinds of tote bags. The products were available online from January 19 onwards. According to the AllRightsReserved Instagram handle, the limited-edition figurines are priced at $199, while the ceramic plates cost fans $130. Shirts and tote bags are priced at $50.
As part of his most recent project, KAWS released the ‘Companion Blush’ figures via the website KAWSone.com on February 14, 2019, along the theme of Valentine’s Day. The iconic figure features a red-coloured design and is approximately sized at 14 inches.
One of the first street artists to cross over into the fine art market, KAWS has become a highly sought-after artist in the recent years. His works span across toys, fine art, fashion, art collecting, public art, and graffiti, and he is known for his uninhibited style of work across mediums, spreading American pop culture across the world. In New York in November 2018, the top three auction prices for his work were set in one night, when Untitled (Fatal Group) (2004) sold for $2.7 million with premium at Phillips; Chum (2012) went for $2.4 million with premium at Christie’s; and Clean Slate (2014) went for $1.9 million with premium, also at Phillips.