KAWS’ iconic art figures Companion black and brown [Photos provided by Urban Break]
Urban Break 2023, Asia’s largest urban culture art festival, will kick off at Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, on July 13, featuring the works of globally renowned artists including designer KAWS.
The event will showcase over 110 art pieces, including KAWS’ iconic art figures Companion through a special display KAWS Unveiled, flat paintings, album covers, and merchandise, offering visitors a fresh perspective and immersive experience.
Brian Donnelly, professionally known as KAWS and from the U.S., worked as an animator at Walt Disney Co. while gaining recognition for his graffiti on New York City bus stops and phone booth billboards.
His unique representation of beloved characters such as Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse quickly garnered public attention. In 1999, he released his first art toy, which sold out rapidly and even caused the website of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) art shop to crash.
One of his paintings titled “Kimpson,” featuring The Simpsons, fetched an astonishing 116 million Hong Kong dollars ($14.8 million) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction in 2019, marking the highest price ever paid for the artist.
Along with KAWS, Korean artists will showcase an “Art Toy Village,” a venue that features art toys with growing value for their rarity, at Urban Break.
Coolrain, a first-generation Korean art toy artist who achieved the world’s first collaboration with the National Basketball Association (NBA), will present his past masterpieces alongside his latest works, including the first platform toy called POTBALL.
Tobey, known for his meticulous craftsmanship, will decorate his space to resemble his studio, offering insights into his unique working methods. Rising artist Ha Jong-hoon will showcase a collection of art toys that reimagine animal characters.
In addition, a group of the world’s rising artists will visit Korea to attend Urban Break.
One of them is Jason Naylor from Brooklyn, New York. Known for his graffiti art that combines bold black lines with vibrant and fluorescent colors, Naylor has collaborated with numerous companies, including Sephora, PepsiCo Inc., and Toyota Motor Corp. At Urban Break, Naylor will paint on Ioniq 6, an all-electric model by Hyundai Motor Group.
Nicholas Blake, a 12-year-old child prodigy recognized by renowned artists, will also attend the festival. Blake creates paintings of dinosaurs and monsters on large canvases that exceed his own height, using rough brushstrokes and oil techniques that even established artists admire.
Blake’s 28 workpieces sold out at Urban Break last year.
Visitors at Urban Break will also explore pieces of work by Adam Handler, such as the Ghost series. The artist, known for his healing messages, gained popularity during the pandemic.
By Lee Han-na and Han Yubin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]