Closing on 12/14/19 is Kenny Scharf’s current exhibition at Honor Fraser, Optimistically Melting!. The exhibition includes multiple installations, paintings, and sculptures- including new ceramic work.
From the press release-
After four decades of constant production, Scharf’s latest group of paintings introduces a new subject: the still life. The trope of flowers in a vase appears throughout Western art, notably in the work of artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. In Flores Flores Flores (2019), happy flowers spring from a vase casually set on a table at the center. Closer inspection finds a less happy flower at the edge of the table with X’s over its eyes, a cartoon signifier of death. Further, the viewer notices the drips of darkness in the background, adding to a growing sense of unease in the work, something sinister lurks behind the pleasant centerpiece. These signifiers of global anxiety become more overt in the artist’s Sloppy Melt series of paintings, also to be included in the exhibition, which feature dripping cartoon figures and screen-printed news headlines in English and Korean about climate change. With clear memories of smog days as a child growing up in Southern California, environmental concerns have appeared throughout Scharf’s oeuvre. The artist believes it is important to be mindful of future damage we will cause to the environment if we continue to prioritize comfort and ease in the present.
In the 80s, Kenny Scharf began collecting plastic detritus that he found along the beach in Brazil, where he was living at the time. The artist would assemble these discarded items into sculptures for the wall, giving them new life as aesthetic objects called Lixos (“trash” in Portuguese). Though the sculptural practice has continued intermittently, Scharf made a habit of collecting discarded plastics from around the world, which have not degraded over the years. More recently, the artist began collecting all of his single-use plastics and stringing them together as a garland around his studio, a constant reminder of daily waste. In light of the current reckoning with the overproduction of plastics and climate change denial, Scharf will present a new body of Lixos in the gallery along with a giant garland wrapped around the outside of the building. Materials for the garland will be collected at Honor Fraser Gallery throughout the summer and leading up to the exhibition. In addition to creating a personal alternative to recycling methods that require more toxic chemicals, Scharf aims to shine more light on this urgent issue. As in his paintings, deep concerns about our future lie beneath these brightly colored works.
Expanding his sculptural practice, Kenny Scharf will unveil a group of large ceramics featuring his signature characters in the round. Produced in collaboration with Stan Edmondson in Pasadena, these works were fired locally and hand-glazed by the artist. Bordering on living sculpture, the pots will contain greenery to be nurtured beyond the term of the exhibition, a gesture of possibility and hope rom the artist. In addition to converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, caring for plants has proven to be a beneficial practice for humans as it requires patience, reduces stress, and promotes close observation. These plants grown by the artist himself contain Scharf’s intention for a more respectful and conscientious future.