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.