Companion (Resting Place), a sculpture by KAWS. (Photo: Megan-Taylor Waters)

KAWS: Art for the age of loneliness

KAWS is an artist reflecting the times – as shown in his new Australian exhibition exploring human connections in an age marked by growing loneliness.

Brian Donnelly – aka KAWS – is the artist behind the multi-room instalment Companionship In The Age of Loneliness at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The exhibition displays a range of multimedia art pieces including life-size sculptures, paintings and prints, all featuring his trademark skull-and-crossbones motif.

The 45-year-old New Jersey-born artists has worked to incorporate icons of pop-culture such as The Simpsons, SpongeBob and Snoopy, appealing to younger generations and enabling them to relate to the messages behind the artworks.

The Snoopy and Charlie Brown installation. (Photo: Megan-Taylor Waters)

Curator Simon Maidment said: “Many of the sculptural works of KAWS can be seen as emblematic of the type of human interaction that should be celebrated in the face of today’s mental health challenges, providing comfort, protection and support for one another.”

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The relevance of the work is reflected in the Young Australian Loneliness Survey, conducted by Swinburne University and VicHealth, which found that one in three young Australians experience loneliness on a daily basis.

“Loneliness is an emotional state originally linked to the way the relationship of community to the individual changed during the period of modernity,” Maidment said.

“It is generally accepted that mental health issues are on the rise in Australian society, and recent surveys suggest up to 20 per cent of young people suffer from a severe mental health issue.”

Companionship In The Age Of Loneliness aims to raise awareness of the “direct links between loneliness and poor physical health as well as mental health”.

The exhibition runs until April 13.