Leila Heller Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in the UAE by Kenny Scharf (b. 1958), muralist, painter, sculptor, and installation artist, best known for his fantastical, large-scale paintings of anthropomorphic animals and imagined creatures. The exhibition features a selection of large-scale works on canvas as well as relief sculptures comprised of oil painted televisions and small assemblages of found objects.
His new body of work is a reaction to what he perceives as our ‘increasingly out-of-control situation’, depicted by the melting faces in his paintings. Scharf’s work continues to reflect his inexhaustible optimism and his sense of fun but has always been engaged with profound issues beneath the facade. Ecology, the environment, and capitalist excess have long been central themes. More recently, his paintings reflect his environmental concerns over the petroleum industry.
Large-scale, bright, colorful paintings, murals, drawings, sculptures, prints and installations define Kenny Scharf’s oeuvre, often depicting animated cartoons or imagined creatures. With a child-like appeal, his work is often described as playful, optimistic, bubbly and full of joy. Beneath the colorful and idyllic surface of his paintings and collages, Scharf references the darker issues of the modern world. He categorizes his art as ‘pop surrealism’, drawing inspiration from the realm of the unconscious, explaining that his own unconscious is full of pop imagery. He cites surrealism and abstract expressionism as his major influences.