On my recent visit to Malaga I went to the fantastic centre for contemporary art where I was fortunate to stumble across two of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen one of which was the stunning KAWS – Final Days a hugely joyful but reflective exhibition. The first thing to note was how well curated it was, the five pieces were not immediately obvious as they were within an open room in the centre of a large space so you didn’t know they were there until you turned a corner and then BAMMMMM you were hit with the impact of theses strange cartoonish figures, the largest of which was around twenty feet high (and weighing around ten tonnes). It took your breath away and make you grin manically.
While I was in the room I watched the reaction of other people and everyone had a real physical and happy reaction as soon as they saw the pieces. As I took in the sculptures I was immediately awash with childhood images of cartoon characters and representations, Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse etc which continued the smiley theme for me but as I looked closer at the figures I noticed they were in sad, withdrawn, scared, angry poses. None of them had eyes, instead these were replaced by crosses which also appeared on the back of their hands. I found it really interesting to look at the figures from a distance and then up close to see this change between the playful and the anxious. Apparently KAWS uses these poses and expressions as they reflect how he would feel if he was continually observed and knowing this it added another layer of reflection for me on the pieces.
The final element of the exhibition that took my breath away was the craftsmanship that has gone into the figures. They are all made of wood, but not carved out of one or two pieces which would in itself be pretty amazing but each figure is made up of individual pieces, each about a foot long that have been treated and fixed together (glued?) in an almost seamless way. I would have loved to have been able to touch them and to feel the wood as they looked incredibly tactile. A truly memorable exhibition.