Takehito Koganezawa

Santa Monica

at Christopher Grimes


The four silent videos in this show were made by Tokyo-born, Berlin-based Takehito Koganezawa as independent works, but a stirring installation cohered when three of them were projected onto adjacent walls in the gallery’s central space. The blinking signage of Untitled (neon) was bracketed by Untitled (water), both 2005, and Untitled (birds) of 2006. Individually, each of the videos presented a nonnarrative loop (ranging from 9 to 22 minutes) showing its subject in characteristic motion. Together, they composed a continuous visual poem on rhythm, beauty and spectacle, nature and artifice.

Untitled (birds) was the simplest and most stunning of the three. Subtly overlapping shots of flocks rising, merging and separating, hovering and changing course, read as a kinetic drawing in black and white. Occasionally, a single dark, fluttering dash would traverse the frame, but the birds typically moved as a group, exquisitely balanced between stillness and momentum. The wavelike patterns of their flight resonated elegantly with the projection of water on the opposite wall. Darkness streaked with light, the edge-to-edge aqueous field rippled and pulsed. The scene turned celestial when reflections of light radiated like stars against the water’s black expanse.

In between these breathtaking excerpts of natural wonder was a montage of neon signage—stripes and other patterns, letters and symbols—in saturated color, blinking on and off, clamoring for attention. The imagery buzzed like a Pop-inflected, electrified stain painting forever making and unmaking itself. To either side, raw, gorgeous nature prevailed, pure physics and instinct, uncontrived.

A fourth video, Catcher (2007), was projected in a smaller side gallery. An amusing 5½-minute loop, it has a playful charm familiar from Koganezawa’s earlier series of whimsical, surrealistic drawings and magical videos in which he transformed small, ordinary gestures into visual and auditory marvels through the rhythmic repetition of elements or, as in this case, filmic sleight of hand. The projection straddled a corner, with one part showing unidentifiable black objects whizzing through a wedge of light and the other, at a right angle to the first and seemingly continuous with it, showing the artist standing upright, poised to catch them. He appears to make the grab when objects reach the juncture of the walls, and then he lets go. On the floor below lay a scattering of creatures—octopus, butterfly, ghost, squid—cut from black paper, as if they’d fallen from the video.

Koganezawa, in his mid-30s, has no qualms about indulging in conceptual gamesmanship one moment and flirting with romantic profundity the next. That wonderfully unabashed quality made this selection of work feel especially true to life’s own cerebral/sensual mix.

Photo: Takehito Koganezawa: Left to right: Untitled (water), 2005, Untitled (neon), 2005 and Untitled (birds),
2006, all DVD; at Christopher Grimes.