FENOMENI / PHENOMENA 74 | Umetnost » Art In an art world that’s obsessed with hype hunting and collaborations, one creator has succeeded in rising above the rest. Yet the enigmaticKAWS says that he could neither have dreamt of nor planned for this success. Not during the 1990s, when he converted the streets of New York into his canvas, and not even today, when his ubiquitous ‘Companion’ has soared to the stratosphere. The homes of the biggest contemporarymusic stars – whether we’re talking about heroes of the Latin trap genre,K-popsensationswithcrypticnamesorestablished hiphop authors –have something in common that they carefully preserve on their polished glass shelves. No, we’re not talking about the glittering Grammy awards that secured them superstar status – rather small vinyl statuettes that resemble some dystopian cousins of Mickey Mouse, known as Companions… These figurines are the work of a man who goes by the pseudonymof KAWS; an artist who found his posiMAST E R OF T ECTON I C I NT E RSECT I ONS Do you know who KAWS is? The most viral creator of the connected world exposes the truth about the holy grail of collectors and digital aesthetics tion at the tectonic intersectionbetweenbranding, couture, installation, sculpture and retail, and thuswonover the affections of today's creative icons, such as Shepard Fairey, Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami. However, the influence of his creative work extends far beyond the circle of those who can afford to spend millions on modern art, like Pharrell Williams and Justin Bieber, whoallegedly spentmillions onCompanions sculptures. By consistently taking recognisable icons of pop culture – such as The Simpsons, Disney characters or SpongeBob - and reinterpreting them in ways that are equally playful and subversive, KAWS understands better than any other contemporary artist the importance of shock values at a time when securing undivided attention is worth more than gold. If branding and concept are the twomost important elements ensuring success in modern global art circles, then KAWS is one of the few to have mastered them both - and who is capable of pairing themby utilising his carefully acquired academic understanding of the history of art. Born in 1974 as Brian Donnelly in Jersey City, his alias doesn't have any deeper meaning – he just really liked the way the letters looked together as a tag. As a youngster, hewould regularly catch the high-speed train fromhis hometown toNewYork, where he and his pals would cruise the city’s avenues on skateboards. With a fascination for Basquiat and Haring, but also the flourishing graffiti scene of the time, he enrolled in art school in a quest to acquire amore formal education than could be provided by the walls where he left his tags. However, it was only at the start of the new milSkulptura od 70.000 ružičastih cvetova bila je u centru piste na Diorovoj reviji This sculpture made from 70,000 pink flowers was featured as the runway centrepiece of the Dior show FOTO: / Dior via Bestimage