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Although his early art focused on abstract paintings, Izumi Kato has put down the paintbrush for a more hands-on approach to the human form. Kato’s eponymous show currently on view at Galerie Perrotin in New York showcases his idiosyncratic approach to applying paint on canvas. The eerie presence of his abstracted human forms possess a strong sense of physicality due to the artist’s use of applying paint directly with his hands. Kato’s method of leaving all works untitled, the lack of pictorial narrative, and his avoidance of preemptive studies or sketches leaves his work definably unknowable, yet strangely recognizable in form. The only certainty in Kato’s paintings is the necessary element of tactility. Upon close examination, Kato’s paintings are an indexical reference guide to the motions of the artist, inextricably tying Kato’s physical being to that of his otherworldly beings.
Given his interest in physical forms, it makes perfect sense that sculpture work would be his next mode of expression. In 2005, Kato adapted his human figures into sculptures made of wood. Purposefully avoiding easily moldable materials such as clay or resin, Kato’s proclivity to wood allowed him to leave cracks and chisel marks as if they were the markings on flesh.
By seeing both mediums side-by-side at Galerie Perrotin, viewers are able to observe Kato’s sculptures as extensions of his paintings. Working in conversation with one another, the untitled works showcase the endless possibilities of Kato’s wildly imaginative world. With vivid hues and flat color field backgrounds that provide an unidentifiable setting for the artist’s anonymous figures, Kato creates a body of art that exists beyond all boundaries.
“Izumi Kato” is on view at the Galerie Perrotin through February 27, 2016. On the occasion of the exhibition, Galerie Perrotin will release a monograph including a text by Ryûtarô Takahashi.