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Next week in Giswil, Switzerland, More Gallery will present two large-scale works by KAWS: Together and Good Intentions. After recent exhibitions of painting and sculpture at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Brooklyn Museum, and an upcoming survey at the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth, the exhibition will include KAWS’ first new woodwork on such a scale in three years. Whitewaller caught up with the artist to talk about the importance of relationships and his wildly popular new Uniqlo collection.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about the two sculptures on view at More Gallery from June 12-August 28?
KAWS: The focus of the new sculptures at Giswil is the interrelationship between forms—how two things come together and create a balance within.
WW: Are they in any way reminiscent of the work Along the Way, shown at the Brooklyn Museum last year?
K: I always thought of Along The Way as a positive and very caring figure. The new sculptures are a continuation of those sentiments. I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of relationships.
WW: Your previous project in Giswil in 2013 was the first time you worked in wood on such a large scale. What do you like about working in wood on that scale?
K: Working in wood has given my sculptures a vulnerability that is different from the painted bronze or aluminum ones. I think most people have grown up with small wooden toys and have an intimate relationship to the material that is hard to ignore when viewing these works.
WW: As a fan of your work, it was amazing to see, even during the documentation of the installation process, your large-scale works interacting with each other, the landscape, and the weather for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) exhibition. What was that like for you, seeing your work in that setting?
K: Having the exhibition at YSP was a great experience for me. Seeing several of the sculptures I have been making one by one over the last ten years in one place helped me where I want to go next with the work. The landscape there is amazing, and having the outdoor works with that much room between them, but in the same sight line, really added to the experience.
WW: Along that thread, when you work on something like the upcoming survey of your work at the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth, when you look back at earlier work, do you remember what you were thinking about at the time you were making it?
K: The past few months I have been fully immersed in digging out older works and images. I remember thinking at that time that I was hungry and anxious about getting works made and into the world. I don’t think much has changed.
WW: Can you tell us a bit more about that exhibition? Was any new work created for the show?
K: There will be some new painting and sculptures made for the show, but the majority of the works will be ones made over the last twenty years, and this will include the ad intervention works from the 90s, as well as products I produced in editions.
WW: Let’s talk about your new Uniqlo collection. You are no stranger to fashion collaborations. Why did you want to work with Uniqlo specifically, and how did it compare to past partnerships like with Supreme or Comme des Garçons?
K: I really enjoyed working with Uniqlo. The quality and reach they have is unrivaled by any international company. Aside from having a great relationship with Nigo, who invited me to take part in this project, I saw it as a great platform for my work to be disseminated to the public on a large scale. This collaboration is unlike any I have done in the past, and I’m happy to have the work reach that many people worldwide.
WW: You worked with Nigo on this project, who you started working with 15 years ago. How would you describe your long-standing collaborative relationship?
K: I would describe our collaborative relationship as relaxed. I trust him and I think he trusts me. We both want to make something good, so things tend to go smoothly.
WW: You’ve always gravitated toward putting work in the public realm and that translates to an international audience. Why do you think that is?
K: It’s great to have opportunities to put work into the public realm. I love the thought of reaching an audience that wasn’t looking to be reached. This is something I’ve been thinking about since I was a teenager.
This article is published in Whitewaller Basel 2016.