Looney Tunes is a group exhibition exploring the external influences of culture and the internal influences of the artist’s creation from the soul. This exhibition showcases a number of contemporary artists, famous for their colorful and graphic pieces recalling cartoon illustrations. 

The works featured in this exhibition are also characterized by their blend of street art and institutionalized art, alongside the combination of techniques and platforms used in their works. With the latter, the artists engage with a range of spaces: from murals on commercial buildings, through giant dolls sited in public spaces, to a variety of consumer products like shirts, dolls, and hats. The exhibition encompasses the full gamut of artistic motivations, from independent projects drawing from the artist’s life story to commercial collaborations benefitting both creator and brand. 

The artists on display include Kenny Scharf, an American painter and iconic street artist famous for his intuitive and inimitable graffiti paintings and balloon figures. His work is often dominated by character with optimistic and naive eyes. Our exhibition presents a Scharf painting representing trees, a reflection on his preoccupation with environmental issues caused by from excess consumption.

Across from him we present Binsky, a young local artist who makes inspired use of his personal language in thick black contours filled with a precise selection of color palettes. Binsky’s repeated use of the lip motif in his work references childhood experiences as a stammerer, a communication barrier between the child and the adult world. Painting has allowed him to express the relationship between his inner life and the outside world himself freely and fully. 

KAWS is one of the leading artists in the art scene today. His characters-whether a famous model on a street poster, or the iconic image of Mickey Mouse-stand out for the Xs that KAWS paints in the place of their eyes. The artist chooses familiar images, reinforcing his perceived connection between the highs and the lows. One well-known work, The KAWS Album (2005), was sold at Sotheby’s for $14.7m in 2019. The work is actually a “quote” of Bill Morrisons’s famous illustration of The Yellow Album for television program The Simpsons—which itself references the legendary cover of The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Kaws, on the other hand, sells the dolls that he creates on his website for just a few hundred dollars; shirts embossed with his version of characters from Sesame Street are sold at Uniqlo for less than $50. The combination of the elitist and the commercial highlights one of the most fascinating questions in the art world: for whom is art actually intended? Ups and Downs, displayed in the exhibition, presents a brave abstract of form and color. 

The British based artist Philip Colbert, who describes himself as a “surrealistic neo-pop artist”, also uses familiar cultural images taken from diverse worlds: art history, the world of design and fashion, and familiar icons from mobile, computer, and social media arenas. His paintings, like the one on display in the exhibition, are collage celebrations in a contemporary and illustrative style, featuring bright saturated colors and iconic images. These reflect the flood of imagery that characterizes the age of information abundance, and our incessant, unstinting hunger for consuming this.

On the other side of the Looney Tunes exhibition, we present artworks by artists influenced by internal physical and mental processes that they feel compelled to share with the wider world. To observers from the outside, these creations sometimes come across as some kind of madness.

The multidisciplinary performance artist Bryan Lewis Saunders’s difficult childhood manifests in the wounded psyche that he depicts, using the entire spectrum of the arts: music, singing, plastic arts, video and performance art. Saunders is best known for his ongoing project, 25 years in the making, of creating a self-portrait every day. His art deals with the suffering of man, the effect of drugs, and the subconscious. His work is represented by two works presented in the Looney Tunes exhibition.

The British artist Marc Quinn achieved some notoriety in the early 1990s with his well-known sculpture, Self, a self-portrait of the artist that literally uses his body as material: Quinn’s cast of his head, immersed in frozen silicone, was created from ten pints of his own blood. In this way, the materiality of the sculpture has both a symbolic and a real function. Quinn made the work at a time when he was struggling with alcoholism; the notion of dependency, the need of things to be plugged in or connected to something in order to survive, is apparent since the work needs electricity to maintain its frozen state. With a further iteration made every five years since, this series of sculptures presents a cumulative index of the passing of time, and an ongoing self-portrait of the artist’s ageing and changing self.

Following this preoccupation with human blood in his works, Quinn has recently developed another idea, which informs his project, Our Blood. The piece presents a statue containing two identical cubes of frozen human blood. Each cube is made up of blood donated by more than 2,500 volunteers. One cube is made up of the blood of refugees, the other of non-refugees including celebrities like Anna Wintour, Paul McCartney, and Bono (U2). The two cubes look exactly the same, and thus the work embodies the understanding that our blood is the same no matter who we are and where we came from. Intended to raise awareness of the tragic issue of refugees across the world, Our Blood will be presented in 2022 at the New York Public Library.

Quinn’s use of perishable materials is also reflected in his series of flower paintings, which subvert one of the oldest forms of picture-making: the still-life. One of the paintings from this series will be displayed in the Looney Tunes exhibition. To create these hyper-realist oil paintings, Quinn created a still-life arrangement in his studio, using flowers and fruit bought in London on a particular day. Since most of the flowers and fruit in these compositions would not bloom at the same time—or even be found together in the natural world—they present a new perspective on the way in which human desires have created new seasons,  bringing together in one geographical location things that would normally be assembled by nature. The paintings depict a frozen moment of “unnatural” time. This tableau engages with ecological problems created by man’s desire to establish hegemony over nature.