Izumi Kato is an artist who began painting after laying down his brush. Eschewing tools, as if to reject any reliance on the flightiness of brushwork, he applies layer upon layer of somber-hued pigment directly with his hands, not so much to paint as to rub the color onto the canvas. In this way, he depicts creatures with human contours, two staring eyes, a head, hands and feet. Those bold, forceful curves, throwing into relief the human shape, those organic lines, that distortion and simplifying of form, are inevitable products of painting with the hands, and as a result, Kato’s works possess a powerful presence that seems to illuminate the core of the human body.
Kato was a relative latecomer to the art world, making his debut at the age of thirty. He had worked as a manual laborer for some years, which left him with the sense of being at one with the world that comes with corporeal achievement, and a humble appreciation of his place as just anther creature of this earth.
From here he set out on a new journey of engagement with the vast realm of painting. An artist who began with the abstract, he now depicts nothing but human figures. All Kato’s recent works are untitled, and he does not set up any specific model to paint; nor does he draft or sketch. These paintings have no narrative element. They are dialogues, creations arising from a direct, barely suppressible physical urge to touch, a trait given play by humans since the days of prehistoric cave murals. The figures sealed within the frame of the canvas seem to radiate an enigmatic aura, their undifferentiated bodies encased in thin membranes reminiscent of a budding life form in the embrace of its mother’s amniotic fluid. Kato’s is the act of capturing life through his body.
In 2005 Kato also turned to sculpture. Deliberately avoiding materials that are easy to mould such as clay and resin, he works only in wood, carving directly. Once again he focuses consistently on human figures, chisel marks and cracks left like idiosyncrasies of the flesh. That he always colors these roughly hewn bodies indicates that for Kato, they are in extension in his painting. Some of his works are equipped with legs or castors resembling those on desks and chairs.