Applying quarter-cut anatomical sculptures inside production figures has been how the artistry of Jason Freeny has manifested for over a decade. And during that time, by his own estimation, he’s created “over 100 dissections”, including his Mini Figure Anatomy (2011) tackling of the Lego minifigure, his take on Disney‘s popular mascot with Mickey Dissected (2015), and even his Munny Dissection (2011) alteration of the well-known Kidrobot form.
But during all the time Freeny has employed this aesthetic, there have been two guiding principles behind his choices of base forms: these are all “characters that I like from my childhood or characters that have a design aesthetic that I’m attracted to,” admits Freeny before emphasizing that they must “produce fantastically grotesque skeletal systems once dissected.” But there is one design that he’s been eager to work on: the Companion figure by KAWS (Brian Donnelly). Unable to acquire the piece in either its original (1999) or Five Years Later (2004) versions, Freeny has “literally been itching to do this [piece] for many years”, admitting that “it wasn’t until recently that I could get my hands on an official piece”, referring to last year’s Open Edition (see our review here). Excited to begin his anatomical dissection work on a Companion, his initial work-in-progress post to Instagram resulted in an unforeseen response.
“The controversy over this piece was unexpected and a complete shock to me”, admits Freeny. “My guess as to all the controversy is that it was a new interpretation of the anatomy. Someone posed the question shortly after I started this piece ‘does the companion need a new anatomy?’, and my answer was no, of course not. But an exploration of a proper anatomy that matches the exterior is something that has been a curiosity to myself as well as many others as I’ve discovered once I started the sculpt.” But to fully comprehend Freeny’s reasoning and choice in doing this design, according to the artist, “one must understand the history behind the KAWS piece.”
“The Companion is one step in a long line of artists appropriating one another”, Freeny explains. “The first is a piece titled Yin and Yang #1 by John LeKay“, which was an Altay produced human anatomy model of a male and female torso that LeKay had purchased from Carolina Biological Supply Company and displayed as a ready-made sculpture in 1990. “That piece”, Freeny continues, “appears to be the basis for the Damien Hirst sculpture titled Hymn (1999). While the idea was borrowed from LeKay, the actual design of the Hearst piece was lifted from a child’s anatomy toy,” specifically the model included in the Young Scientist Anatomy Set, which Norman Emms had sculpted for Bluebird Toys in 1996, who in turn sold the rights to Humbrol Limited. “The anatomical side of the KAWS Companion“, Freeny concludes, “was appropriated from the Damien Hirst piece. So if you look at my piece, Inappropriation (2017), it’s just a continuation of the appropriation, hence it’s title. The KAWS Companion on one side and my new anatomy on the other.”
Freeny discloses that his “approach to designing the insides of characters is to let the exterior dictate what the interior looks like”, thus he wanted “to explore what the actual anatomy may look like that would fit inside the Companion. The Flayed Companion[‘s] anatomical side, being appropriated from the Hirst piece, does not fit what the anatomy should be inside the Companion. These are anatomical parts from a human that have been crammed inside a cartoon character. The anatomy which I sculpted pays tribute to the actual character’s exterior.”
And Freeny’s finished Inappropriation piece accomplishes this, rendering anatomical aspects of the Companion‘s simple shapes and subtle curves, such as the crossbones, teeth, nasal hole, and even X’d out eye in its skull. With the original figure’s form painted in flat white with Freeny’s sculpted details in a satin finish, his exposed dissection elements draw attention all the more. But should one notice that the bones in the figure’s forearm appear to resemble an X in mimicry to the character’s eyes, Freeny will correct you, stating that “for the hand on that character to be in that position those bones would cross each other”, as these “bones in the forearm, the radius and ulna, crossover each other allowing your wrist to twist back-and-forth.” And Freeny’s reasoning for this element sums up his mentality superbly, striving for anatomical accuracy within an imaginary form.

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