KawsOne

Why won't you be art?!
Last updated January 20, 2002

You never know what you are going to find in Japan. One night I was exploring my favorite part of Tokyo, Shibuya, when the distinctive flesh tones of the Simpsons caught my eye. It was on a poster advertising "KAWS TOKYO FIRST"--an art exhibition at the Parco Gallery (March 16, 2001-April 16, 2001). This gallery is on the top floor of a huge department store.

Inside was a bizarre collection of Simpsons characters, Mickey Mouses, and Michelin Men with crosses for eyes and bones through their heads. Photography was prohibited, but, of course, there was a book and other items for sale.

One wall was covered with oversize packages (16" x 16") modeled after the Simpsons Playmates figures, except that each one contained a beautiful oil painting of an x-eyed Simpsons character and instead of "The Simpsons," it said "The Kimpsons." This was the most arresting part of the exhibit, but unfortunately, it is not reproduced in the book. You can buy one of the packaged oil paintings for only 125,000 yen (approx. US$1000).

An aside: Browsing the net looking for related material for this page, I was struck by the almost universal attempt to create non-sequitur imagery and "explore the boundaries" of this or that. But all things considered, there's probably nothing more thought-provoking than the found images in the Ebay Conceptual Art Gallery. Honorable mention should also go to the elegant covers of Relax, a Japanese-language magazine.


The KawsOne museum catalog and sticker set. I think maybe you are supposed to stick the stickers somewhere in public. A previous Kaws' exhibition featured his bone-head faces on billboards.

"Why does art hate me? I never did anything to art."

Links
An article explaining what Kaws is trying to do - "KAWS is a New York-based artist that "liberates" bus-shelter and subway ads, takes them home, and airbrushes strangely compelling cartoon-inspired imagery upon them before returning the poster from whence it came."
Japanese-language webpage about the exhibition
More photos of the KawsOne book (not safe for work)
Lots of photos from the book (interestingly, the copyrighted characters seem to be de-emphasized here)
Kaws' previous exhibitions (in German)
Photo of the slightly scary looking bonehead Mickey
Buy stuff by Kaws

Astrid: Your husband's work is what we call "outsider art". It could be by a
mental patient, or a hillbilly, or a chimpanzee.
Homer: [gasps] In high school I was voted most likely to *be* a mental
patient, hillbilly, or chimpanzee!
from The Simpsons, "Mom and Pop Art"

This entry was posted in Nothing to do with Thailand, but Interesting, The Simpsons in Thailand. Bookmark the permalink.

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