KAWS is now offering balloon rides!
Sign up for a trip in the KAWS:HOLIDAY hot air balloon and you’ll get a certificate, a uniform and a collectable from this brilliantly unconventional contemporary artist
KAWS has never been held back by the restrictions of a gallery’s walls. Our book, KAWS: WHAT PARTY, describes the ways in which the artist, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, always toyed with the limits of public art, whether he was slipping his doctored poster ads into the billboard display cases of lower Manhattan, or (more recently) floating a huge version of his COMPANION figure out in front of his adoring fans.
“In 2018 KAWS launched HOLIDAY in a collaboration with the Hong Kong–based creative studio AllRightsReserved, spectacular temporary projects that feature enormous COMPANION figures' ' explains Eugenie Tsai in our new book. “Ranging from 92 to just over 130 feet long, these figures play off the surrounding architecture and landscape and interact with urban spaces on a scale that looks back to and perhaps even surpasses KAWS’s early public interventions.
“In Taipei, for example, a seated COMPANION occupied Liberty Square. In South Korea the figure floated in Seoul’s Seokchon Lake, while in Hong Kong a boat towed COMPANION around Victoria Harbour,” Tsai goes on. “In Japan COMPANION reclined near the foot of Mount Fuji, historically regarded as an icon of Japan’s natural beauty and frequently depicted by Japanese printmakers such as Katsushika Hokusai. Around two thousand campers spent the night in tents at the foot of the inflatable figure at the Fumotoppara Camping Ground, a massive “sleepover” sponsored by Herschel Supply Co., which allowed campers to watch the sunrise over Mount Fuji and COMPANION.”
Now, KAWS and his COMPANION are preparing to head out on tour once more, as part of the artist's new project, the KAWS:HOLIDAY Hot-Air Balloon. First launched near Bristol in the UK on Monday, a 42-meter-tall version of the artist’s best-known character will fly over and near cities in Australia, China, Turkey and Spain in the coming months, according to a schedule determined by the demand for flight packages in the COMPANION.
The price of these packages hasn’t been disclosed, but would-be passengers can register an interest; the deal includes a numbered certificate, an exclusive uniform, and a collectible, as well as a ride in the balloon.
However, the artist doesn’t just view this new project as an elite activity; part of the art includes watching the balloon float by, for free on the ground. "It really will be an unexpected thing in the sky," KAWS told CNN. "To have work that suddenly interrupts your sight line for a few minutes, going through different cities in the world, is, for me, very exciting.
"I thought the balloon would be a great object to create something across a landscape that people can experience,” he went on to say, “rather than having an exhibition-type piece that everyone gathers around."
To better understand how this brilliantly unconventional contemporary artist works outside the conventional gallery system, order a copy of KAWS: WHAT PARTY. The new book, which accompanies the artist's sold-out show, is available in a range of KAWS-approved colours; take a look at the pink edition here; the yellow edition here; the black edition here; and the orange edition here. No matter which one you pick, KAWS: WHAT PARTY will unlock access to a compelling new field within contemporary culture, pioneered by one of the most important artists of our time.