arts

Artist KAWS' giant floating 'Companion' appears on Seoul lake

Updated 19th July 2018
Credit: KAWS and AllRightsReserved Ltd.
Artist KAWS' giant floating 'Companion' appears on Seoul lake
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN
With arms spread out, face toward the sky, the latest work by American artist KAWS is a picture of relaxation. And from today, this 92-foot-long (28 meters) inflatable can be found reclining on the placid surface of Seoul's Seokchon Lake.
The new installation is the artist's largest work to date. It features one of his signature characters, Companion, who will spend the next month atop the 15-foot-deep waters before embarking on a world tour.
Seokchon Lake, which is located in the South Korean capital's Songpa district, previously hosted the world-famous inflatable "Rubber Duck" on a tour of its waters in 2014.
"I just wanted to do a water piece," said KAWS, real name Brian Donnelly, in a phone interview. "I was just thinking about being on vacation, and when you just drift in a pool and stare upwards, and that's really the beginning of the work.
"I feel like, in these times, we need things to help us relax," he added.
KAWS started out as a graffiti artist, and has since made his name through distinctive cartoon-like sculptures. His new work, which was created in collaboration with the Hong Kong creative studio AllRightsReserved, is being accompanied by a range of products, including replica bath toys and an inflatable "bed."
"It's not such a great commitment to own the (art as merchandise), and people can enjoy it as they wish," he said. "I think is a great way for work to exist."
The project, officially titled "KAWS:HOLIDAY," marks Donnelly's latest work in Asia, where he has proven especially popular. In May, he installed two 26-foot-tall sculptures (featuring Companion and another of the artist's signature characters, BFF) at a shopping complex in the Chinese city of Changsha.
Other larger-than-life projects have seen him create a 40-foot Companion balloon for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, and last month, a 33-foot-tall sculpture of BFF, covered in flowers, for Dior Homme at Men's Fashion Week in Paris.
How KAWS is making art more accessible
"I've always been interested in public art," Donnelly said. "A lot of the reason of how I make work is about communication, it's about creating a dialogue with the viewer, and putting work out there they weren't expecting to interact with that day.
"There's something about having work in public that's very different than having work in an institution or a gallery."