Kenny Scharf at David Klein Gallery @ Hyperalleric
DETROIT — When an artist has been doing their thing for as long and steadfastly as Kenny Scharf, there is a kind of comfort that sets in around the idea of trusting their own process. Arguably, Scharf has always worked from an intuitive place, as far back as his undergrad days at the School of Visual Arts in the early ’80s, followed by a run of palling around with some of the most influential artists of the East Village scene, including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, with whom he shared an apartment in 1981 that was the site of his first “Cosmic Cavern” installation. Scharf would go on to immediate gallery success and inclusion in the 1985 Whitney Biennial, and a cursory scroll through his Instagram yields archival images of him sitting at Andy Warhol’s elbow. Who wouldn’t trust their artistic instincts, when they managed to land Scharf at the warm little center of the New York post-Pop, street art scene, and launch him on a lifelong career trajectory?
That career is presented in truncated form in a survey of works at David Klein Gallery, which offers an easy primer to some of Scharf’s most prominent and recurring motifs: Surrealist Pop clip-art imagery rendered in photo-realistic painting style (what Scharf refers to as “Super-Pop”), hot dogs against colorful backgrounds, playful and intricately detailed fantasy landscapes, and, of course, a candy-colored assortment of his “blob” paintings (which might be considered the fine art predecessors of emoji). For Scharf, this Venn diagram of subjects holds common ground.
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Kenny Scharf Switches Between Styles, Like Changing the Channel on a TV