Izumi Kato: Stand By You
In 'Stand By You', Japanese artist Izumi Kato invites viewers into his uncanny world, populated by spectral figures that inhabit the liminal space between the physical realm and the territory of spirits. These creatures, with bulbous heads and slim, graceful bodies, recall the anatomy of embryos, children, or alien forms. At once charming, haunting, and humorous, they tower over viewers or hide discreetly in corners — solitary beings brought together in communion through careful and considered placement within the gallery.
Kato’s practice is rooted in painting, which provides a basis for unbridled experimentation. When creating within the structure of a traditional two-dimensional canvas, he applies paint directly to the surface with his hands, without the intervention of a brush — a visceral and intuitive process that prioritizes bold color and confidently articulates formal qualities. Kato’s figures, however, often expand beyond the constraints of the rectangular picture plane, with cut canvas appendages and free-standing limbs and torsos. Some works hang from the gallery ceiling like hovering apparitions, anchored to the floor by found rocks like a tether to the physical realm.
Sensitive to the unique properties of the specific locales in which he shows his work, Kato carefully scouts sites for unconventional media to serve as the substrates of his sculptures. Like kami, the Japanese spirits of Shintoism that inhabit all things, Kato’s creatures are made manifest in a wide range of materials — from found driftwood and stones to cast vinyl dolls and traditional regional textiles — as if the artist conjures a spiritual being from his raw materials.
Photo: Courtesy SCAD Museum of Art.