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Kota Ezawa at WCMA

Post #1016 • June 7, 2007, 2:39 PM • 4 Comments

Williamstown, MA—Kota Ezawa was submitted for my consideration by an alert reader regarding some of my recent work, namely the paintings which reduce figures down to flat shapes. Ezawa is doing something similar in video, Flash, actually. The similarities turned out to be incidental, but I held off judgment until I saw a room dedicated to his pieces that was up until June 10 at the Williams College Museum of Art. Here's the skinny, courtesy the museum website:

Ezawa’s work re-presents iconic moments from history and the media, which have been simplified into flat, silhouette-like animation. The cartoon quality of the work in no way diminishes its strength; on the contrary, it boils down the essence of the historic moment into characteristic body language or idiosyncratic tics, akin to Andy Warhol’s stylized portraits of cultural icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Stylistically, they're pleasing enough as Flash files. But I found that the reduction of flat form was quite harmful to the emotion in those iconic media moments, such as the reading of the OJ Simpson verdict, or of Beuys holding forth. It offloaded the tension and sense of witness onto the voices, which were presented as is. Those of us who follow South Park with a sizable fondness remember OJ Simpson's appearance in Butters' Very Own Episode, not dissimilarly simplified in form, waxing indignant at his victimization along with Gary Condit and the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. Well, once that was in my head, Ezawa's work was done for the day. This made me wonder about the degree to which comedy has taken over effective criticism of society from nearly every other creative form, but this line of thinking came to me at Ezawa's expense.

Images at above link.



Marc Country

June 7, 2007, 8:48 PM

... not to mention films like Linklater's Waking Life...



June 8, 2007, 7:53 AM

... saw some of this work in N.Y. - some murder scene expanded; but clean as a digital print is, with a good dose of ink for saturation. I agree with the "South Park: deal - hope he's making a good living.



June 8, 2007, 8:46 AM

Well nice post, however it appears to a human that as long as we can get stimulated by a physical presence, then we will be attracted to humanistic substances in things. Maybe the future is about 'cold and aloof' interaction - this seems to be happening now: sort of the same thing as "Platonic Abstraction", but with imagery. It's all the same.


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June 14, 2007, 11:41 AM

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