KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

What a crazy week this has been!

First Robert Del Naja aka 3D presented new prints and a limited edition EP at the “Ritual Spirit” launch at Lazarides Editions, then Martha Cooper had a big show at Stolenspace gallery (interview is getting posted soon!) and now I had the chance for a meet and greet with the legend that is KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I am exhausted!

As I love the intersection of consumer products and art, KAWS is right up my alley. After starting out as a Graffiti Writer KAWS quickly climbed the ranks thanks to endorsement by big collectors like A Bathing Ape founder NIGO and super producer Pharrell Williams.

I witnessed the guy collaborate with my fave label from back in the day BAPE, launch his own fashion label after, redesign the MTV Video Music Awards statue, collaborate with Kiehl’s and Hennessy and flew his Companion balloon high in the sky at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

KAWS is definitely making moves!

 Image via  dotherpix
Image via dotherpix

But even with all the success with his product design KAWS always pushed his art game too: When he started blowing up his toy designs to epic scale the art world took notice.

After showing his monumental sculptures at the Frieze Art Fair in London, Harbour City in Hong Kong and at CAC Malaga it made sense that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield would order his sculptures for their vast art park and threw a couple of newly commissioned paintings into the mix as well!

One can understand that I was VERY excited when I managed to get two tickets for a meet and greet with KAWS at the YSP and the chance to be one of the first people to see the new show!

As the guided tour started at the ungodly early hour of 8.30AM on a Saturday morning it was all about charging my iPhone and getting an early night. As the sculpture park is approximately 180 miles from London I was lucky to be able to stop over at the place of a good friend and fellow KAWS enthusiast in Nottingham. In order to head to the sculpture park we planned to hit the road early in his car, or as I like to call it, The KAWS-MOBILE!

Arriving at the museum we were greeted by a massive banner and many friends and fellow KAWS-obsessives, all dressed to impress and ready to rock!

First point of call: The merch stall. Enter Through The Gift Shop is how true players of the collecting game roll, trying to avoid missing out on limited goodies like totes bags, note books and postcards. I kept it casual, purchasing only a couple of nice postcards, the exhibition catalogue and a KAWS tote bag that is quite useless thanks to its miniature size. As if form over function ever stopped me…

After some tasty Bacon Sandwiches provided by the museum it was time to man up, face the harsh Northern weather and start to slide down the muddy hills of the sculpture park…

Although the rain was dismal everybody was in good spirits, snapping happily away. Thanks to the perfect preparation of my friend I was equipped with proper boots, keeping my feet warm and dry amongst all the rain and Yorkshire mud. Thanks Gav!

Many of my fellow visitors weren’t that wise… I don’t think I ever saw so many limited edition trainers covered in dirt in my life (RIP those Yeezy Boosts)…

 via  stphndnld
via stphndnld

What can I say, standing in front of a massive representation of a toy you have back home on your shelf is pretty impressive. Honey I Shrunk The Geeks! What’s even more awesome is when suddenly their creator pops onto the scene as well.

After taking a group shot via a hovering drone ( it’s 2016 after all ) the group trekked to the Longside Gallery Space on the other side of the park. Turning down the shuttle bus to the rest of the show was a big mistake, with me barely reaching the other side thanks to my lack of regular exercise.

Things I suffer in the name of art…

The second we reached dry land things got real: An orderly queue was formed almost IMMEDIATELY to get things signed by KAWS. It’s swiftness and efficiency surprised even me, being German and all.

Grails* were pulled left, right and centre to be signed by the man himself.

I can’t praise KAWS enough for taking the time to sign everything that was handed to him. In my case it was the Rizzoli KAWS book from 2010 and the vinyl cover artwork he designed for Kanye West… and a catalogue… and a little scribble… yeah I pushed it a bit…

(*Grail: A extraordinarily limited collectible item that’s on the wish list of many of your fellow collectors) 

It had to be done…

Loved the five new canvasses by KAWS called “Survival Machine”.  Loved the Chums, Accomplices and Companions. Loved meeting up with with friends and meeting the main man. What else can I say? Great success!

After having taken it all in, it was time to head home. Of cause not without a second visit to the gift shop and a longing look at the five prints that were available to buy but to 510% out of my price range…

So what’s the verdict? Great show. KAWS’ clean and colourful style is as eye popping as always and his sculptures make me feel like an ant on a toy shelf. Thumbs up! 

Big thanks as well to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for curating this great show and organizing this awesome InstaMeet!

Now, to the KAWS-MOBILE my friends!!! It has been a pleasure…

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