Izumi Kato is a Japanese artist who lives and works in Tokyo. Born in 1969, Kato studied at the Musashino Art University where he graduated in oil painting. He started making sculpture in 2005. The exhibition at Perrotin is his first solo show in New York and comprises a large number of paintings and sculpture. Kato has sold at auction since 2006, in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, and increasingly in London and New York. His auction prices range from the low thousands to just short of a hundred thousand dollars, depending on size and medium.
Applying the paint with his hands, rather than brushes, his canvases depict otherworldly child-like figures. Doe-eyed, part human, part something else, they remind me of the work of Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami. Whereas Nara and Murakami adapted the Manga and Anime figures of the 1960s into creatures with depth and emotion, Kato takes it to the next level, adding a sense of eeriness, magnified by the fact that a number of his paintings have a mysterious luminescent glow to them.
Kato’s sculptures are more unsettling than his paintings. Cute but somewhat scary, they are made out of different materials such as camphor wood and soft vinyl. Kato remarked in an interview with Sarah Cascade of Artnet that he oftentimes feels like Frankenstein. This is about as much clarification as we will get from the artist who does not feel compelled to explain his work. The interaction between the viewer and the object leaves any interpretation open-ended. You’ll keep staring at them, wondering who these creatures are and where they came from. And that is part of their charm. The exhibition is definitely worth a visit.
‘Izumi Kato’ is on show until 27 February at Galerie Perrotin, 909 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021.