Brian Donnelly, known professionally as KAWS, is an American artist and designer. His work includes the repeated use of a cast of figurative characters and motifs, some dating back to the beginning of his career in the 1990s, initially painted in 2D and later realized in 3D.
KAWS is considered a one-of-a-kind artist in the art world. The artist’s playful, subversive figurines can be summed up in the form of his COMPANION, a 1997 work by KAWS that regularly commands high auction prices and pops up in the homes of prominent celebrity collectors all over the world.
The COMPANION takes the outlines of a Mickey Mouse persona, adds Dumbo-like ears and X’s over the eyes and hands, and voila: art world magic that’s now been turned into a global tour. The KAWS: HOLIDAY Hot-Air Balloon World Tour, to be exact, which will be held later this year.
In an Instagram post, KAWS shared on Monday: “Tonight is the launch of KAWS:HOLIDAY Hot-Air Balloon project with @ARR.AllRightsReserved As we navigate through this global pandemic and have no expectations of anyone traveling soon we wanted to bring KAWS: HOLIDAY to you! KAWS:HOLIDAY UK (pictured above) was our first stop! It’s one of the world’s largest hot-air balloons measuring 42-meters tall, potentially coming to your country next in the fall of 2021.”
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It’s not the first time KAWS has scaled up his designs. The artist launched a virtual AR project last year that placed his COMPANION in major cities around the world, and an inflatable version of his COMPANION floated in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour as part of his KAWS:HOLIDAY exhibition the year before.
A hot-air balloon, on the other hand, might just catapult the artist to new heights of fame.
According to CNN, the demand for tickets to fly in a hot-air balloon will determine the exact schedule on which the balloon will be flown. Australia, China, Turkey, and Spain are among the confirmed nations. “It really will be an unexpected thing in the sky,” KAWS told CNN.
“To have work that suddenly interrupts your sight line for a few minutes, going through different cities in the world, is, for me, very exciting.”
Furthermore, the concept was conceived as a way to deal with the pandemic’s restrictions on art viewing and travel. “Rather than making an exhibition-type item that everyone gathers around,” KAWS added, “I thought the balloon would be a perfect object to create something across a landscape that people would experience.”
KAWS currently has an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum but there’s also more art shows and installations that you can see in New York City.
Image credit: @rkrkrk