Stephen Friedman Gallery has just opened the first UK solo exhibition of Japanese artist Izumi Kato.
The exhibition celebrates the breadth of Kato’s practice comprising painting, sculpture and drawing and is both truly beautiful & super fun.
Kato animates figures that inhabit a liminal space between the physical and spiritual realms. His otherworldly subjects include children with distinctive faces, embryos with fully developed limbs, and figures with bulbous heads and large eyes attached to slender, graceful bodies. Speaking of these, the artist says, “They are no one and nowhere”; rather the forms are expressions of the energy and very essence of consciousness.
In the exhibition, Kato’s expressive paintings allude to themes of animism and folklore. Describing painting as the root of his practice, with bold clashing colours, the artist intuitively applies pigment to surfaces directly with his hands. Gathering material from his surroundings, he combines painting with
stitching, knotting and carving – skills that as an avid fisherman he uses regularly – to create sculptures and installations formed out of found textile, wood and stone.
Kato’s mysterious creatures are presented in a variety of scenarios. A figure carved in wood resembles an aircraft, whilst another is adorned with animals, birds and bugs. Continuing the motif of nature, a human-sized sculpture cast in aluminium from found boulders is displayed in the gallery’s garden.
Izumi Kato, – Saturday 7th January 2023, Stephen Friedman Gallery
About the artist
Kato (born 1969) lives and works between Tokyo and Hong Kong. Kato graduated from the Painting Department at Musashino University in Tokyo, Japan in 1992. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Stand By You’, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, USA (2021); Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing, China (2020); ‘LIKE A ROLLING SNOWBALL’, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and Hara Museum ARC, Gunma, Japan (2019) and Fundación Casa Wabi, Puerto Escondido, Mexico (2019). Notable group exhibitions include: ‘Just Looking, Still Looking, Always Looking’, Aranya Art Center, Qinhuangdao, China (2021); ‘Garden of Life: Eight Contemporary Artists Venture into Nature’, Tokyo, Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2020); ‘Unconstrained Textiles: Stitching Methods, Crossing Ideas’, Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile, Hong Kong, China (2020) and ‘Japanorama. A new vision on art since 1970’, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France (2017). In 2007, Kato was invited to take part in ‘Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense’ in the Italian Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, curated by Robert Storr. Public collections include: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; Japigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland; K11, Hong Kong, China; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing, China; Taguchi Art Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Takahashi Ryutaro Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi, Japan; Zhiguan Museum of Fine Art, Beijing, China and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Ishikawa, Japan.