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Roger Shimomura at Greg Kucera Gallery

Roger Shimomura’s paintings hit racist assumptions head-on

By Seattle Mag August 28, 2013

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This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Seattle magazine.

Born and raised in Seattle, Roger Shimomura has been living in the Midwest for the last 40 years, but says he is still regularly asked what part of Japan he’s from and how long he’s been in the U.S. Frustrated by the presumption that he’s not American, he created this new series of paintings, American Knockoff, in which he portrays himself as battling both American icons (Mickey Mouse) and Japanese stereotypes (shown here) while using Japanese fighting styles (karate, sumo wrestling and a samurai sword). Shimomura has made a career of exposing anti-Japanese racism—both historic and contemporary—in his work. Using a comic, Pop Art style, he’s painted himself as a squinty-eyed, bucktoothed caricature, such as those used in World War I propaganda; as a “Chinese imposter” (in response to people who mistake his heritage); as a Hello Kitty figure; and as a kimono-clad warrior. The cartoony aspect of these bright, bold, acrylic paintings belies his serious commentary about the racism—overt and subtle—that continues to flourish. Through 9/28. Free. Times vary. Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S; 206.624.0770; gregkucera.com 

 

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