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Tension 5

Tension 5
Signed Print


Screenprint, 2019
Signed Print Edition of 100
H 89cm x W 58cm

Critical Review

Tension 5 is one of ten screen prints that compose the Tension collection. All the prints in this collection show unique arrangements of graphic shapes rendered in bold and bright colours. The prints in this collection are more abstract than many of KAWS’ other works and do not feature any of the cartoon characters which have become closely associated with the artist’s name. Despite this more figurative turn, the prints all capture the essence of KAWS’ distinct style which is characterised by an emphasis on colour and the use of graphic shapes.

KAWS’ style was clearly influenced by graffiti and street culture. The artist started experimenting with graffiti when he was a teenager and would spray paint buildings in New Jersey with his tag, ‘KAWS’. Interestingly, the name was not chosen because of its meaning or any deep significance, but simply because of the way the letters looked when arranged together. KAWS’ artistic origins in graffiti and street art mean he is often compared to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, two leading 20th century artists who emerged from the New York City graffiti subculture of the 1980s. Indeed, KAWS places himself in line with these artists who believed that art is for the people rather than an art world elite.