Kota Ezawa At the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

November 3, 2018

Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art , Installation view at MCASB, Santa Barbara, 2018. Photo: Brian Forrest

Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art, Installation view at MCASB, Santa Barbara, 2018. Photo: Brian Forrest

Kota Ezawa's solo exhibition travels to MCASB in Santa Barbara. Kota Ezawa draws from the histories of media, popular culture, and art history to create distilled renderings of iconic images. His simplified versions of indelible images remain easily recognizable and potent, the result of a process that illuminates the hold certain images have on their viewers. Working in a range of mediums such as digital animation, slide projections, light boxes, paper cut-outs, collage, print, and wood sculptures, Ezawa maintains a keen awareness of how images shape our experience and memory of events.

Through a kind of appropriation, Ezawa applies his signature style to paintings and three-dimensional objects creating scale images of each of the 13 stolen artworks, displayed salon style in lightboxes on the wall—including works by Degas, Manet, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. 

Accompanying this tableau is a black-and-white two-channel video. It is based on security footage released by the museum in hopes of identifying the thieves. Here, Ezawa's reductive technique eclipses that possibility, but it reminds us just how little we know about what really happened.

In the absence of the original works, viewers must rely solely on reproductions of the lost Stewart Gardner paintings. Whether printed in a textbook, projected in a lecture hall, or gathered from Google image search results, artwork reproductions are ubiquitous. In this way, Ezawa asks: what does it mean to be original?

Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art was curated by Irene Hofmann and organized by SITE Santa Fe with the Mead Art Museum.

The exhibition is on display November 3, 2018 — February 3, 2019.