Companion (Passing Through)

January 30 through June 5, 2011

Back by popular demand, Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, a.k.a KAWS, returns to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in January with the largest incarnation to date of his endearing Companion character.

The sixteen-feet-tall Companion (Passing Through) is on view in the Museum’s sculpture garden through June 5, 2011.

Although KAWS enjoys great popularity worldwide for his graphic, industrial and product design, including limited toy editions and streetwear fashion, sketches, drawings, paintings, murals, and sculptures, and his work has been exhibited in many countries, his Aldrich exhibition in 2010, which spurred record attendance, was his first in a museum setting.

KAWS introduced the famous Companion in 1999. The seven and three-quarter inch limited edition toy featured the signature KAWS inflated skull and crossbones, with a skinny-legged Mickey Mouse body.  KAWS chose Mickey Mouse after a search for the most recognizable and international character in the cartoon world to “take down.” Since then, the Companion has grown in scale. The towering Companion (Passing Through) presents the iconic figure sitting down with both gloved hands covering its face.

Curator Mónica Ramírez-Montagut asks, “Why does KAWS keep revisiting the Companion? For him, these characters—and others like the Accomplice and the Chum—are almost family members. As the artist navigates through life, feels happy, strong, tired, or overwhelmed, so do these creations; they will age and transform with him, and each time they will reveal something slightly different, making them unique to the time they were created.”

She adds, “KAWS is providing us with not only new human/animal hybrid images, but most importantly with a new visual figurative vocabulary (the Companion, the Accomplice, the Chum), which is permeating every channel of communication available, from the Internet and its Web sites and blogs to design products such as toys, stickers, pillows, rugs, ashtrays, and printed media, all the way to the art world.”

Brooklyn-based artist and designer KAWS studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has had solo exhibitions at The Aldrich; Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles; Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris and Miami; BAPE Gallery, Tokyo; Elms Lesters Painting Room, London; MU Art Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands, and Colette, Paris. He has exhibited around the globe, including Paris, Lille, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Athens, Los Angeles, and New York.  KAWS is represented by Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles; Gering & López Gallery, New York; and Galería Javier López, Madrid.


KAWS, Companion (Passing Through), 2010
Courtesy of the artist and Harbour City, Hong Kong, and AllRightsReserved Ltd.