KAWS opening Yorkshire Sculpture Park Review

On a cold, wet, windy day, as stories typically commence, the scene was aptly set for American artist’s KAWS first UK Museum show at the renowned Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the west of the county.

As a relative newcomer to the artist, I felt appropriately positioned to view the work with a fresh perspective, having never seen his sculpture work in person, and something I had patiently being anticipating for a while. It was not to disappoint.

In typical KAWS pop fashion, a ‘strawberry pink milkshake’ mini bus featuring a picture of the bunny sculpture, transported us to the Longside gallery to view the indoor sculptures.

The deceptively voluminous space with its large glass windows on one side overlooking the beautiful rolling Yorkshire countryside, featured many of the sculptures and toys – turned – sculpture, that fans who had followed KAWS had seen… but what made this special was the fact that it was the largest curation of the works within a single space. At times a little claustrophobic because I feel these supersized works need a large area to ‘breathe’ in their own space, they did not disappoint. Particular personal favourites were the imposing ‘passing through’ which clearly dominated the space, and the comparatively lifesized ‘clean slate’.

As well as these sculptures, the minimalistic space also featured five huge paintings from the ‘survival machine’ series. They were immaculately rendered with KAWS’ typically vibrant colour palette and the line work was certainly impressive as was the subtle depth and transition of each canvas.

Back to the main museum and a slide down the muddy fields to the outdoor exhibit. Greeting (or dwarfing) us on the main footpath was the largest of the outdoor sculptures ‘small lie’, constructed from a beautiful African hardwood, meticulously put together to resemble a floor – like grain.

These outdoor sculptures, which were darker and more muted in tone, curated in circular fashion, worked in perfect harmony with their surrounding environment of the cold, dark, grim British winter climate on this opening day of the exhibit.

‘Along the way’ struck me as having particular depth and resonance and was the clear highlight for me.

What astounded me was the time and engineering in bringing these sculptures to fruition, which KAWS references in his Question and Answer session at the end of the evening. Collaboration is no stranger to him and he hinted at further collaborations in the future. Something that fans of KAWS, and new converts like myself will eagerly await.

An overall fantastic opening exhibition and a must-see for anyone (as apparent by the diversified audience that were present). It will be interesting to see how these sculptures change in bright and sunnier months to go, especially the outdoor sculptures. Any excuse for a revisit.

Photos and Blog written for GraffitiStreet by our friend  Nawaz Mohamed… confirmed lover of street art from the heart of England.



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