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July 12 2014

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Prabal Gurung Gets Obsessed

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Three people enter a room: Popeye, Julius Caesar, and Georgina Chapman. No, that’s not the beginning of a bad joke (though there’s a buck in it for whoever comes up with the best punch line). All three found their way into the work of artist Cary Kwok, and all three are on a view at Obsession, a new exhibition of Kwok’s work curated by none other than Prabal Gurung (above, with Kwok).

Kwok’s intricate ballpoint pen drawings of his “obsessions” caught Gurung’s eye a while back. And when the designer was offered the chance to curate a show at the gallery (he presented his first two collections in the space), Kwok was his first choice. “I wanted to do the exhibit because it takes my mind off of fashion, and it’s good to take a little time off,” Gurung laughed.

His inaugural show suggests he’s got a good, playful eye for unlikely juxtapositions. (A portrait of Audrey Hepburn hangs side by side with a homoerotic rendering that looks like it could illustrate a particularly blue passage from William S. Burroughs.) “I wanted it to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but not obviously vulgar,” Gurung said. His favorite among the ink-on-paper drawings include ones of Chanel perfume bottles, a peacock plume, and a caricature of the Marchesa designer (who made an appearance in the flesh at the opening, too). But the recently named CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner (he scooped up one of the two $100,000 runner-up prizes) doesn’t think of himself as an art buff—he just knows what he likes. “Art to me is something you get absorbed in,” Gurung told us. “You don’t have to think about whether it inspires you or not, you just enjoy it.”

Obsession is on view through January 29 at FLAG Art Foundation, 545 W. 25th St., 9th floor, NYC, www.flagartfoundation.com.

Photo: Hanuk/hanukhanuk.com

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Dept. of Culture