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Kenny Scharf "BLUE BLOOD" at Totah

An ode to the East Village of the past, graffiti-esque yet painterly, in the sense that each work’s precision and detail astounds and amazes, Kenny Scharf creates new universes. Known for his graffiti style black light installations, Scharf grew as an artist in the East Village of 80s alongside names like Basquiat, Haring, and Wojnarowicz. His art speaks to another time where punk and grunge reigned. Blue Blood is a literal exhibition of his growth from angsty teen creative into a developed and complex painter.

Totah is a well-lit gallery which beautifully frames Scharf’s paintings. This small collection of paintings on the ground floor use a minimal palette and make a big impact. While he limits his colors to red, blue, black, and grey, the works are vibrant and dynamic. Each painting has its own wow factor. Scharf’s signature blob-like characters exist in a galaxy of their own. His painting range from new alien worlds with smiling trees, to nuclear explosions, unknown galaxies, and he even takes a swing at environmental issues. His playful take on graffiti in a high-end gallery is shown in the basement where he has spray painted both the walls and canvases - the entire space is lit with a black light giving a clubby, late-night feel. He did the entire piece in two days! And it will now be permanently installed art he gallery becoming a historic piece

This is Scharf’s first solo exhibition at Totah and he makes quite the impact. “IN THE BEGINNING” (2019), is one of the largest pieces on view; cartoonish characters spinning out control into unknown nebulas to wreak havoc and create mayhem. “ULTRA PLANETA” (2019), is like entering into the darkest parts of a Dr. Seuss book, fiendish yet funny. Scarf manages to insert his entire personality into each stroke. And he never uses assistants for his work

Blue Blood will be on view until July 28th at Totah Gallery in LES.

Contributor Talia Silverstein