Billy Ogawa and I crossed paths back in art school where I was always jealous of his illustration skills. I’ve since come to terms with the fact that drawing isn’t my forte but am delighted to see that his skills have only gotten better. I was always impressed by his studies as they popped up on my facebook feed and over the last few days I’ve found myself confronted with and by his newest series The Senators of the 112th Congress, which he started this past summer. Already 16 deep, he’s steadily making his way through the remaining Senators.
These drawings are probably the most poignant political commentary I’ve ever seen. They make you feel so much with so little. It’s simply a Senators face but I feel extremely uneasy looking at them. Their politician smile greets you, asking for your support yet their eyes reveal the nothingness behind. You can stare at them all you want but you get nothing in return. Billy referred to them as demons in ill-fitting human masks, adding “There’s just something about the very nature of politics that repulses me, an emptiness that isn’t restricted to Right or Left. So the drawings are a way to express that cynicism, to make art about politics without necessarily being political.”
While I’m not much for politics and as on edge as this series puts me, I have to applaud Billy for so successfully confronting people with his art, that at the very least get you thinking and seeing things a little differently.
Heads up: A handful of illustrations in his portfolio are NSFW.
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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010