wanderlust

Bouncing Off The Satellites With Color and Monumental Sculptures

Like the majority his work in his accomplished and undeniably fun-filled career, renowned artist Kenny Scharf’s current exhibition “Kolors” at the Paul Kasmin Gallery cannot help but make every art enthusiast smile with his bright, whimsical and otherworldly imagery. Featuring ten new paintings and three large-scale sculptures, “Kolors” finds Scharf embarking on some new artistic territory as seen in his color paintings, which are devoid of his iconic characters that he has been representing since the beginning of his career.

A stalwart of the New York art scene since his arrival in the late 1970s, Scharf is best-known for his silly, Hanna-Barbera-inspired and often fluorescent imagery that has been featured on the Bowery wall, his own day-glo basement installation entitled the Cosmic Cavern, and occasionally illegally on the street, as demonstrated by Scharf’s recent arrest for graffiti in Brooklyn. With the experimentation in “Kolors”, Scharf undoubtedly proves himself to be an artist inspired by constant artistic discovery.

Kenny Scharf's work at Paul Kasmin Gallery. Photo: Ibra Ake

Even though two of Scharf’s new paintings in “Kolors” contain his alien-esque characters and an appearance by Judy Jetson, most of Scharf’s paintings are instead detailed and complex studies of color. Referencing Color Field paintings, Scharf fills the Paul Kasmin Gallery with canvases that each delve into one specific color. In paintings such as Green, Scharf depicts amorphous blobs that resemble amoebas in various shades of green from lime green to emerald to pine on a fascinatingly textual background, which is reminiscent of space in The Jetsons. Otherworldly with a real sense of depth, Scharf’s “Kolor” paintings still retain his sense of outer space, as the viewer is drawn into his orbiting colors. 

While each specific color painting in Scharf’s exhibition is a near meditational viewing experience, the exhibition culminates in Scharf’s monumental painting Kolorbz, representing primary colors circling into a vortex of color. Just as celebratory as Scharf’s anthropomorphic characters, Scharf’s color paintings prove that Scharf can make even basic colors a fun-filled romp.

Cosmic Things

In addition to Scharf’s paintings, the “Kolors” exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery also presents three enormous sculptures of his well-known characters such as the clearly disgruntled Red Scary Guy who can be found in several of Scharf’s murals and paintings.  Transforming from the canvas or the wall into the three-dimensional sculptures, Scharf’s amusing characters dominate the gallery with their size, vibrant colors and animated expressions.

Kenny Scharf's sculpture on display. Photo: Ibra Ake

Perhaps the most striking sculpture in the exhibition and certainly the tallest is Totemotiki, a totem-like sculpture constructed of alternating angry purple and happy yellow guys presenting an amusing duality of emotion. Not only are Scharf’s sculptures huge, but two of Scharf’s sculptures, including Totemotiki, also rotate, adding another entertaining twist to his already enjoyable exhibition. 

  • Paul Kasmin Gallery – Kenny Scharf: Kolors – Until May 4 – Tuesday- Saturday: 10am-6pm [Estimated Price Range: $15,000-100,000]

Article by Emily Colucci