Taro Chiezo

By Spring, Justin | Artforum International, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview
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Taro Chiezo


Spring, Justin, Artforum International


Using high-tech colors and materials (including transparent Day-Glo plastic and laserdisks), Taro Chiezo created an installation that resembled a space-age playroom in which the futuristic machines and materials are synthesized into deceptively adorable art. Chiezo's brilliance lies in describing in visual terms the immediate excitement surrounding the prepackaged technologies of television, video, the computer, and the Internet, a visual analogy for the instant (and ultimately unsatisfying) gratification available through electronic media.

The four large-scale paintings in the show featured Japanese cartoon characters found in various sites on the Net. In these oil-based collages on canvas, Chiezo created a painterly vision of jumbled computer- and television-generated imagery and the mindlessly optimistic consumer culture that produces it. The unlikely combination of "Japanimation" with AbEx techniques and a bright, highly keyed palette of fluorescent paints can be seen as a wry comment on the status of painting itself in a world overrun with computer-generated imagery. Quite apart from their deadpan comedy, however, the works are remarkable for their delectably artificial sense of color: to gaze at one is to linger in a world of lollipops, neon, and plastic.

While the paintings are formally impressive, a mechanized sculpture that creeps around its own little laser-disk-paved playpen (A Robot to Fall in Love /or not, 1994) steals the show. The robot consists of a bright red plastic body (the front half of which is a cow/lamb hybrid, the back half a globe) atop a computer-controlled automaton propelled around an enclosure of luminescent plastic by six independently moving legs. The sculpted body is a continuation of Chiezo's work with surreal, animal-inspired plastic creatures; a nonmechanized but equally toylike work (Flying Calf Engine, 1994) is mounted on the ceiling.

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