Kota Ezawa

Exploring the ways we use history and its constructions, the Oakland-based artist Kota Ezawa describes his own practice as a form of “video archaeology”. Using iconic archival news or film footage, Ezawa addresses how we only remember the past through mediated images – from television, newspapers, cinema – and the dangers which entail from it. The same way as a moving Warhol silkscreen or a South Park cartoon, Kota Ezawa´s video animations employ few colours and details to inquire the power and overlap of popular culture, political action and high art. As a sort of digital approximation of paper cut-out animation, vibrantly coloured and stylized, his flat images are patiently recreated by hand – a single video can take up to a year to be finished – and finally presented to the viewer as a digital projection or a film, or a slide show. Ultimately, such a laborious technique is questioning how – in a culture charged with technologically mediated images – certain images prevail in our collective memory more than others and how rapidly they are replaced.

Kota Ezawa meticulously transforms found footage from television, cinema, and art history into simplified two dimensional vector-based animations. In City of Nature (2011) Ezawa appropriates and deconstructs excerpts from popular films including Jaws, Fitzcarraldo, Deliverance, and Brokeback Mountain. Removing all human presence, Ezawa concentrates on nature as the work’s subject, and its relationship with our visual representation of it. De-contextualized and stripped of any narrative content, the film clips are recognizable, yet untraceable, emphasizing the pervasive and subconscious influence of popular visual media on our collective unconscious.

In his exhibition The Crime of Art at the Galerie Anita Beckers in Winter 2016/2017, Kota Ezawa presented a series of lightboxes that reference theft, misappropriation and vandalism. Among Ezawa’s work is a version of Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I” that was stolen by the Nazis before being returned to its rightful owner Maria Altman in 2006. Also on display are recreations of Caspar David Friedrich’s “Nebelschwaden” stolen from the SCHRIN Kunsthalle in 1994 and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Concert” stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.

31.03.2023 – 25.06.2023
Kunstverein Walkmühle
Walkmühle 1 / Bornhofenweg 9
65195 Wiesbaden


27.10.2021 – 04.12.2021
Opus II
Galerie Anita Beckers
Braubachstraße 9
60311 Frankfurt am Main

Learn more about Kota Ezawa’s work National Anthem here:
Meet the artist

17.05.2019 – 22.09.2019
The Whitney Biennal
We are happy to announce Kota Ezawa’s participation in the 2019 Whitney Biennal!

23.09.2018 – 17.03.2019
Light box
Kunstmuseum Celle
Schlossplatz 7
22921 Celle

11.11.2018 – 03.02.2019
The Crime of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
653 Paseo Nuevo
Santa Barbara CA 93101

29.06.2018 – 14.10.2018
Entfesselte Natur
Hamburger Kunsthalle
Glockengießerwall 5
20095 Hamburg

07.11.2017 – 28.01.2018
Art Lessons
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Paseo del Prado, 8
28014 Madrid

09.11.2017 – 09.04.2018
Leonard Cohen
MAC Montréal
185, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Montréal (Québec)
H2X 3X5

07.10.2017 – 10.01.2018
The Crime of Art
1606 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501

26.08.2017 – 25.03.2018
Limitless Horizon: Vertical Perspective
Queensland Art Gallery  I  Gallery of Modern Art
Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct
South Bank, Brisbane
Queensland 4101, Australia

160 pages, 80 images
Co-published with SITE Santa Fe and Mead Art Museum
ISBN: 9781942185321

Published in accompaniment to the exhibition of the same name at SITElab, Santa Fe, by Radius Books.




Kota Ezawa – The History of Photography Remix
Punlished in English
56 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1590051788
Published by Nazraeli

Die Kunst des Klauens
by Regina Nahrwold, Braunschweiger Zeitung, 28.01.2018

The Art of Crime
by Edward Goldman, HuffPost, 16.01.2018