Kota Ezawa’s latest body of related works—which includes silver gelatin prints, light boxes and a new video installation—focus on the protagonists of American modern art, as well as the European artists who helped lay the groundwork for abstract painting. Translating historical photographic portraits of artists such as Kazmir Malevich, Agnes Martin and Ad Reinhardt into his singularly flat, pared-down style, Ezawa enacts a surprising reversal, printing in gelatin silver on fiber-based paper, a process that highlights the obdurate materiality of the photograph and transforms well-circulated images into unique editions. Similarly, his newest light boxes operate as freestanding objects, alluding to the minimalist objects of the depicted artists. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a new video installation entitled The Aesthetics of Silence. Named for an eponymous 1967 Susan Sontag essay, the work draws footage from the 1972 documentary Painters Painting, which surveys American art movements from the 1940s to 1970s through conversations with artists, dealers, critics and collectors of the period, including Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler and Leo Castelli. Rather than giving us words, the only audio accompanying Ezawa’s video is ambient sound – deep breaths, rustling jackets and sipped water–heightening the work’s visual impact and amplifying Sontag’s claim that “silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech…and an element in a dialogue.”
The work of Kota Ezawa has been showcased in solo exhibitions at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT (2005); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2006); Madison Square Park, New York, NY (2011); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2013); and in group exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2005); Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2005); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (2008); Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, Australia (2010); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (2010), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2011); and the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (2013). Ezawa’s work has been acquired by institutions such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, CA; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. He received a SECA Art Award in 2006 and a Eureka Fellowship in 2010.
This is the artist's fifth solo exhibition at Haines Gallery.