Baik Art is pleased to present Anxiously Optimistic, the gallery’s first solo show for Los Angeles-based artist, Kenny Scharf. From recent paintings to archived prints and editioned collaborations, Scharf’s exuberant iconography presents us with a lexicon of playful signifiers that are imbued with underlying themes of social and environmental strife. This exhibition will be on display from Oct. 23 – Nov 22, 2019. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, from 6pm-8pm.
As a young artist living in New York during the 1980s, Scharf and other artists of his generation, such as Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat, were drawn to working beyond the contexts of the traditional gallery space. Whether it be public murals, consumer goods, or renditions of popular animated characters, Scharf has always sought to keep his work relatable and accessible to anyone hoping to experience it. Like Warhol before him, Scharf became known for merging high and lowbrow aesthetics and has since established a tradition of incorporating pop-culture signifiers into his paintings.
For Scharf, the embrace of unconventional materials, bright color palettes, and playful shapes is not only a break from restrictive cultural conditions but rather a way to address weighted topical issues with a sense of prevailing optimism. Ongoing concerns for ecology and sustainability occupy Scharf’s thinking and is expressed frequently via the artist’s amebic characters and near celestial compositions. Building on his recent solo exhibition, Optimistically Melting at Honor Fraser, in Los Angeles, Kenny Scharf alludes to our collective desire for betterment and consumption while contemplating the detriment of instant-gratification and our reluctance for change. Thus, presenting us with paintings that are equal parts– individualized style, dystopian projection, and unadulterated joy.
Kenny Scharf was born in 1958 in Hollywood and lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1980. One-person exhibitions of Scharf's work have been presented at the Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea (2018); Hillstrom Museum of Art, St. Peter, MN (2018); the Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn, NY (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015); Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR (2015); Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA (2004); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles (2001); Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, OR (1999); Salvador Dalí Museum, Saint Petersburg, FL (1997); University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL (1997); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico(1996); and Museum of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL (1995). The Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson will present Scharf's career retrospective in Spring 2020.
Scharf's work has been included in group exhibitions such as Under One Roof, Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2018); Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2017); Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2017); Holdings: Selections from MCASD's Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA(2016); and Urban Theater: New York in the 1980s, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX (2014).
Scharf's work can be found in many public collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.