Ezra Johnson’s What Visions Burn relays the story of an art heist and its aftermath, in which Johnson intertwines content with style for a unique take on the robber-film genre. He paints and repaints his canvases to create each frame of his films, providing a rich visual texture and continuity. He uses the medium of painting to make a film about stolen paintings, and interjects newspaper headlines—made from newsprint collages—into the action. What Visions Burn is at once a meditation on art, film, and urban society.
Ezra Johnson was born in 1975 in Wenatchee, Washington. He received an MFA in painting from Hunter College, New York, in 2006 after earning a BFA in painting from the California College of Arts and Craft, San Francisco, in 2000. Johnson’s animations are based on his practice as an oil painter; each frame in his films is taken from a canvas and collage elements that are continuously repainted as the narrative progresses. With heavy brushstrokes and lush colors, Johnson’s work firmly roots itself in the realm of figurative painting. Johnson’s work has been shown at the Hammer Museum; the 55th International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany; and numerous galleries in the U.S. and Italy. He lives and works in New York.