Get Happy with Kenny Scharf at Deitch

We were psyched when Deitch Projects reopened their cavernous gallery on Wooster Street last year and even more excited when we heard a massive Kenny Scharf show was on the roster. Through December 22, experience Scharf’s iconic “inexhaustible optimism” through new paintings, colorful conglomerations, upcycled televisions, and of course his signature smiling characters. Kenny Scharf: Inner and Outer Space presents a body of brand new work from the artist but art lovers can also experience a few pieces of his work from the late 70s and early 80s uptown at the Museum of Modern Art’s Club 57 exhibition. Scharf’s bursts of color and energetic strokes are sure to cheer you up on these cold, grey days into winter.

Scharf has been known for his vibrant, smile-inducing characters and brightly colored forms for over 30 years, but behind the happy figures the artist is addressing serious issues like the environment, oppression, and capitalism. For this new show, he tackles issues of recycling and waste, using found objects in many of the pieces. A whole wall of three dimensional smiling faces are made from discarded (and now-obsolete) box television sets, their screens flipped and hung flat to the wall and their bulky backs becoming facial features and cheek bones. Once the center of the home, these TVs are given new life and a joyful new purpose for visitors to enjoy. Upstairs, a bevy of recognizable childhood toys have been joined together and painted over into funky sculptural wall pieces.

Oversized paintings are almost dwarfed in the sprawling gallery space with one giant, drippy piece of drippy characters almost reaching the ceiling. For Inner and Outer Space, Scharf has created a dialogue between his traditional characters and the Abstract Expressionist movement creating color field-heavy, gestural paintings that are a fusion of Pop and Pollock seen through his eyes.

Inner and Outer Space is a wild ride of dynamic pieces that brings a ray of much needed sunshine to all who visit. Treat yourself to some free color therapy and get happy inside Scharf’s latest exhibition.

Words by Lori Zimmer