KAWS’s exhibition “TIME OFF” opens today at Skarstedt Paris. On view through April 22, it is the culmination of the last year of the artist’s work and includes a suite of new paintings and a large-scale sculpture. An opening reception was held last night in Paris, where the artist was celebrated alongside names like Pharrell and Pusha T.
The works featured in “TIME OFF” invite viewers to reflect on time’s nonlinear and cyclical nature in contrast to the more linear constructs around which we tend to base our lives. Though all the works were produced in the last year, the conceptual roots of the paintings can be traced back to 2020 when our perception of time was greatly transformed amid social isolation and societal disruption due to the pandemic.
The titular work (and the show’s only sculpture) takes the form of his BFF character in bronze, patina, and paint, lounging on one side, propped up by a four-fingered hand. On KAWS’s canvases, these musings on time take a slightly darker, more chaotic turn. The acrylic paintings feature CHUM behind configurations of various-colored bars and bands (are they looking into or out of cells of confinement?), accompanied by titles like FORGOTTEN, UNCERTAIN, and SILENT WORLD—a composition where the signature Xs for eyes gaze at the viewer pleadingly.
The juxtaposition of the artist’s use of bright hues and animation-style characters with the work’s pensive subject may seem at odds, initially, with the existential of our relation with time. But, ultimately, they point toward a framework of hope, of universal experience, and that we’re all in this together.