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Chum Vs Astroboy

Chum Vs Astroboy
Signed Print

KAWS

Screenprint, 2002
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 90cm x W 64cm

Critical Review

Depicted in simple white lines on a black background this scene is reminiscent of early animation sketches or even Keith Haring’s subway drawings, executed by the late Pop artist in chalk. KAWS made his name in a similar way to Haring, doctoring advertising panels he found in the bus stops and phone booths of Manhattan to introduce a wider audience to his uncanny cast of characters and eschewing the traditional art school to gallery trajectory. Speaking of his beginnings as a street artist KAWS has said “When I was doing graffiti, my whole thought was, ‘I just want to exist.’ I want to exist with this visual language in the world… It meant nothing to me to make paintings if I wasn’t reaching people.” This desire to reach people is evident in works such as these where KAWS adopts well-loved figures and presents them in a new way, ensuring his work stays fresh for both new and older audiences alike.

His method of working often with editions – through his Companion toys as well as his series of screen prints – is representative of his savvy understanding of the current art market and also recalls the repetitive techniques involved in the making of cartoons. Originally adopted from the world of commercial printing, screen printing – or serigraphy as it is also known – was first adopted for the purposes of fine art by Andy Warhol in the 60s. His large scale prints of iconic faces – from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis via Chairman Mao – soon made him as famous as his subjects as well as incredibly influential to future generations of artists. The process involves exposing an image onto a silk screen which can then be inked hundreds of times to create a multi layered work. The process lends itself well to KAWS’ work and while in Chum vs Astroboy the artist has chosen a monochrome palette, giving this deceivingly simple print the impression of a lithograph or drawing, elsewhere in his editions he pushes the possibilities of the medium to the max.