Izumi Kato - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Michael Ku Gallery, Taipei
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Making sculptures always gives me new insight into my two-dimensional works, and they sometimes interact." Izumi Kato
    Quoted in Paul Laster, “Chainsaw, Hands, Totem: Interview with Izumi Kato, ArtAsiaPacific, 5 March 2018, online

    Constantin Brancusi
    King of Kings, c.1938
    Collection of Guggenheim Museum, New York
    Searching for another world within his practices, Izumi Kato inexhaustibly turns to human subjects for his source of inspiration to create a powerful fictional world. Known for his surreal paintings of embryotic-looking creatures, Kato also works with diverse medium like wood, stone and textiles to push the limit of the conventional painterly form.

    Totem Pole Model, Alaska - Tinglit, 1820-40
    Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Kato began to create sculptures in 2005, deliberately avoiding malleable materials such as clay and resin, he carves directly on wood to allow raw chisel marks and cracks to emerge as facial features. This fascinating and enigmatic sculpted creature has a bloated oval head, a pair of fathomless eyes and crudely shaped nose and mouth, it stares out and silently awaits for interaction with the beholder. Kato’s humanoid figure maintains a sense of anonymity, bringing to mind primitive artistic imagery, the present work evokes totems and the animist belief that a spiritual force runs through the living and mineral worlds. Incorporating legends and folklore of his native home in Shimane prefecture, a coastal town in western Japan known as the land of the myths, his ideology also resonates with the Shinto belief in the spirituality within earthly materials, including the wood and stone that make up the sculptural object. The pedestal that holds the sculptural figure utilizes recycled wood, merging the present and the past with crude elementary forms of the material to manifest the human bond to nature. Reminiscent of the practices of Constantin Brancusi who pioneered the technique of direct carving, the outlines and contours of the sculpted figure is so smooth it belies the use of the artist’s hand. The roughly hewn body is coloured in a vivid red, the work is a compelling example that naturally extends the artist’s painting practices through a deceptively simple form. Situated between abstraction and figuration, Kato has created a powerful visual language that draws upon nature and humanity’s relationship to it.

    With a unique form of expression, Kato is undoubtedly breaking new ground in the contemporary art world. Considered as relative latecomer, Kato’s participation in the Venice Biennale in 2007 propelled his career on the international stage where he continues to garner critical attention. He has been invited to exhibit at Centre for Heritage Art & Textile at the Mill, Hong Kong (2020), in addition, he has been honoured with solo shows at Galerie Perrotin in Seoul (2019) and Shanghai (2019), Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2019), Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2018) and Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz (2017).



signed and dated ‘2008 KATO [in English and Kanji]' on the underside of the sculpture
wood, acrylic and stone
sculpture: 35.5 x 15.5 x 12 cm (13 7/8 x 6 1/8 x 4 3/4 in.)
pedestal: 72.3 x 21 x 21 cm. (28 1/2 x 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.)
total: 104 x 21 x 21 cm. (40 7/8 x 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.)

Executed in 2008.

HK$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for HK$625,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020