Lot 053 Ravenel Spring Auction 2022
Izumi Kato (Japanese, 1969)
Oil on canvas
53 x 45.5 cm
United Asian Auctioneers, Hong Kong, May 28, 2011, lot 5
Phillip's, Hong Kong, November 29, 2021, lot 150
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Zone - Clairvoyants in This Threatening Age, Fuchu Art Museum, Tokyo, November 1 - December 28, 2003
Paintings and Sculptures: Izumi Kato, Seigensha, 2011, color illustrated, pp. 38-39
Izumi Kato, Galerie Perrotin, Paris, 2020, color illustrated, p. 54
The use of colors and outlines in Kato’s works reminds viewers of Matisse’s paintings and sculptures. In contrast to the bold vividness in Matisse’s The Dance and rugged complexity in Bather, Kato demonstrated a greater emphasis on the control and restraint of Japanese aesthetics. Kato admired the works by van Gogh, Dubuffet, Bacon, and Ito Jakuchu, all of whom were masters in exploring humanity and divinity from the perspectives of soul and nature. Kato built on their ideas by combining them with his influences from Japanese ancient culture and comic animation to create even more fascinating paintings. In 2003, Kato started trying sculptures and the clear carving marks on his works display an original and natural temperament. According to Kato, sculpting was like a 3D painting process that helped to perfect his painting skills.
In 2003, Kato launched his solo exhibition Drawings 1996-2003 in Tokyo. This was exactly when he painted the Untitled series, creating one-of-a-kind “dolls” based on vague associations. Holding a posture of babies inside wombs, these characters feature simple child-like bodies stretching out their slim limbs and sitting with knees bent, leaning forward for a warm hug. Together, the characters’ weird-looking heads and light-colored eyes present an odd balance between infants and elves. As their cheeks gradually changed colors from bluish-purple to indigo, and fading from ultramarine to rusty blue and the lighter “onando,” the characters express an original and dull atmosphere on the dim background. Instead of using a paintbrush to apply a shade of fluorescent yellow on their legs, the artist used his hands to rub the colors into the texture of the canvas.
The work conveys a strong sense of primitive existence. The plain monochromatic background reflects a pure transparency and an inexplicable tension, expanding the profound atmosphere beyond the canvas to viewers. No viewer could resist the temptation to observe the painting more closely for details before finding the characters adorable. The artist described his source of inspiration “as a whole with no special ideas.” The painting is a free expression that cannot be explained. That is why Kato’s works are “Untitled.”
Select: Modern & Contemporary Art
Ravenel Spring Auction 2022
Saturday, June 4, 2022, 4:00pm