C9

Life-size wall paintings, paintings and adapted posters

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January 18 until February 17, 2002

Opening Friday January 18, 20.00h

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After the first graffiti boom, which in the late '80s made a cross-over to the art world, the USA now witnesses the rise of a post-graffiti movement finding its way into museums and art galleries. KAWS (Jersey City, 1974) is one of the most well-known and successful post-graffiti artists. In 1996, KAWS manifested himself for the first time with his most recent work by working posters and billboards near telephone boxes and bus stops in New York. KAWS ‘borrowed’ these expressions of commercialism, took them to his studio and added to each of them a cartoon-like skull and crossbone. After that, he put them back in their original places. He liberated the advertisements from their messages. KAWS mixes this creature, which is his tag, with the logos and commercials of cK, Armani, Guess, Marlboro, DKNY and many others. His artistic interventions challenge the tyranny of commercialism. KAWS loves the interaction between his work and advertising. ‘I do like most of the advertisements I'm working with, but I also find that people take these million-dollar campaigns far too seriously. After all, they're just made to boost up the sales of products. I believe that people appreciate my efforts to inject some sort of humor into these campaigns.’ The American press defined the activities of KAWS as ‘subvertising’, a contraction of ‘subversive’ and ‘advertising’.

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It is not just the classics in the world of advertising that KAWS violates, he also tampers with the all-American icons of comic strips such as Mickey Mouse and The Simpsons. He makes series of paintings and silk screens and he has now marketed his creation as a little plastic figure called Companion.In 2000 KAWS collaborated with designer Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER by creating patterns for his Spring/Summer line. Currently he is designing a new toy series with Medicom in Tokyo to be released late 2002. In his work, KAWS treads the fine borderline between art, commerce, cartoons and commercials. His work is both a disruption of as well as a tribute to all the things mankind has ever produced, bought, sold, exchanged, desired and cherished. In short, pop art in 2002.

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KAWS studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and worked as a free-lance animation artist for MTV and Disney. He had exhibitions in Paris, New York (the New Museum of Contemporary Art), Hong Kong and last year in Tokyo, where the catalogue to his exhibition sold out in one week. For the exhibition in MU, KAWS will make two life-size wall paintings on location. MU will also present a collection of paintings and a number of his worked posters in large light boxes. C 9, the title of the show, refers to a hallmark for topnotch quality, and is a quality mark used in the toy industry.

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During the opening on 18 January, DB from New York played a set of Deep & Chill Drum & Bass. DB was in New York the organizer of the famous NASA parties and in 1996 he opened Breakbeat Science, the first Drum & Bass shop in the USA. Breakbeat Science is now also a successful record label.

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