German-Japanese-American, b. 1969
Lives and works in San Francisco, California and Berlin, Germany
Kota Ezawa’s work explores the appropriation and mediation of current events and images, referencing sources from the news, art history, and popular culture. Since the debut of his 2002 video animation The Simpson Verdict, Ezawa has been well-known for creating light-boxes, videos, and works on paper that distill found images into his signature pared-down, flattened style. By reducing complex visual information to its most essential, two-dimensional elements, he explores the photographic record’s validity as a mediator of actual events and experiences.
His most recent series, National Anthem (2018), draws from broadcast footage of NFL athletes protesting police violence and the oppression of people of color and is currently exhibited in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The Crime of Art, a set of video and related light-boxes, chronicles high-profile museum heists and acts of art vandalism in real life and Hollywood film, and is the subject of traveling exhibition and a monograph of the same title.
Ezawa was born in Germany, where he began his undergraduate studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf with Nam Jun Paik and Nan Hoover before relocating to the Bay Area. His work has been showcased in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA (2018); SITE Santa Fe, NM (2017); Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA (2017); Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA (2015); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2013); Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2012); St. Louis Art Museum, MO (2008); and group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2019, 2006); Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2017); Queensland Art Gallery | Gallrey of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2017); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (2016, 2011, 2010, 2007); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C (2013, 2008); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (2012, 2008); and Art Institute of Chicago, IL (2007); among many others.
Ezawa received a SECA Art Award in 2006 and a Eureka Fellowship in 2010. His work has been acquired by leading institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Musée D’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada; and Baltimore Museum of Art, MD. He has been the subject of several monographic publications, including The Crime of Art (2017) and The History of Photography Remix (2006).