Izumi Kato - Asteroid B-612 Online Auction: Inspired by a Saint-Exupéry Novel Hong Kong Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Phillips
  • “All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.” 

    — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

  • Catalogue Essay

    The jewel-like, embryonic works of Izumi Kato are expressive, emotive inquiries into human relationships and the originality of life in society today. Born in Shimane prefecture, Kato’s creations embody the Shinto legends and folklore of the coastal town in western Japan known as ‘the land of gods and myths’. His embrace of the fluid boundaries between the natural, human and spiritual realms manifests itself in enigmatic works with bold, simple outlines and bright jewel tones that evoke ancient totems and animist beliefs that all objects, places, creatures - even human-made works of art - possess a distinct spiritual essence.


    Kato’s creations particularly speak to the enchanting, otherworldly experiences of the child-heart – playfulness, whimsy, curiosity, innocence, even loneliness. A native sympathy between the liminal world of children and Kato’s art is not an accident of his line and colour but at the very centre of his spirit. Deviating from the tidy and meticulous art language of his Japanese contemporaries, Kato chooses to work with materials sourced locally and used by native populations – canvas, camphor wood, fabric and even flowers. A relative latecomer to the art world, Kato made his debut at the age of thirty having worked as a manual labourer for a number of years. Embracing the Japanese concept of en (or ‘fate’) in his life and working methods, Kato adopts intuitive - even primitive - modes of production, foregoing drafts or sketches in favour of working directly onto his chosen medium, for example using latex gloves to rub oil paint directly into canvas and hand-chiseling his softwood sculptures to leave visible marks and cracks in their surfaces. 


    “If I understand what I am doing, I will lose my motivation to make it and the purpose of creation will be lost.” — Izumi Kato


    Kato’s inclusion in the 2007 Venice Biennale exhibition Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind propelled his career onto the international stage, and he continues to garner critical attention around the world. The artist has recently been honoured with multiple institutional solo shows at CHAT Hong Kong (2020), the Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2020), the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (2020). And the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2019).



    Interview with the artist on the occasion of his exhibition at CHAT, Hong Kong, 2020

    • Provenance

      Arataniurano Gallery, Tokyo
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed and dated '2008 KATO [in English and Kanji]' on the reverse
oil on canvas
18.2 x 13.8 cm. (7 1/8 x 5 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2008.

Full Cataloguing

HK$60,000 - 160,000 

Sold for HK$327,600

Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013

Asteroid B-612 Online Auction: Inspired by a Saint-Exupéry Novel

Online Auction 7-14 December 2021