Chum, the third in a series of darkly playful sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS (Justin Eldridge), is an eight-inch “Companion” whose round belly, noodly limbs, and white gloves immediately reminded viewers of the cartoons made famous by his former workplace. As the creator of “Neighborhood” characters (i.e., Tony and Ian), KAWS helped define the look of FOX' s animation block from 1998 to 2007. During that period, he was also responsible for the “Kidrobot” toys' licensing deal.

“When I left ‘Neighborhood,’ the question was: What do I do next? Could I reinvent myself and what would it be?” asked KAWS in a recent interview. The Brooklyn-based artist began his career working as an illustrator for various music magazines before landing his gig with FOX, where he worked closely with Brian Miller (co-creator of “Family Guy”) and Chris Robertson, who helped produce the show's title sequence.

“Brian taught me how to draw a simplified, more iconic version of myself that would hold up in animation. I wasn't very good at it – there were lots of mistakes,” KAWS said. “But I'm glad to have been there and learned from them. The same techniques that I used for FOX are the same ones I use when drawing my [puppets].”

Certainly the Chum's big eyes and tiny button nose are classic KAWS hallmarks—yet this new Companion is decidedly more squared-off in shape than his predecessors, with curving highlights along its belly (which recalls a host of graphic sex toys) and the exaggerated, cylindrical contents of its belly bag (as though a human figure were contained within). The Chum's deceptive cuteness is balanced by the black zip-ties that prevent him from walking away once he has been “captured” for his owner's pleasure.

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