Japanese artist showcases human-like sculptures at new exhibition

Updated 2018-09-06 08:44:00

Paintings and sculptures featuring quirky figures are on display at Japanese artist Izumi Kato's solo show at Beijing's Red Brick Art Museum.

For decades, Japanese artist Izumi Kato has created human-like creatures with slim and extended limbs, in varying sizes and materials.

And his latest solo show at Beijing's Red Brick Art Museum offers a comprehensive glimpse into his eerie figures that seem to walk out from Japanese myths or from an African tribe.

On display are more than 50 paintings and sculptures produced by the 49-year-old in the past decades.

Not all of the works, however, are showcased indoors. Some of them, like two stone figure-like sculptures, are in the museum's garden.

Meanwhile, the group of large-size wooden figures standing in the museum's circular hall seem like African wooden art. But Kato says he has never visited Africa, and that he is mainly influenced by Japanese monsters and demons.

Kato grew up in the coastal city of Shimane, surrounded by ancient Japanese culture and the worship of elves.

There, locals also believe that animals and plants are divine. And there are lots of legends about monsters.

Kato's favorite monster is a snake demon with a human face that lives in the ocean.

"I used to play by the sea-side. And people often warned me that there were monsters in the ocean," says Kato, whose neighbor was a well-known cartoonist.

Yan Shijie, the director of the Red Brick Art Museum, says he was attracted by Kato's cute and unique figures last year at an art fair in Hong Kong.

Paintings and sculptures featuring quirky figures are on display at Japanese artist Izumi Kato's solo show at Beijing's Red Brick Art Museum.

Speaking about Kato's work, Yan says that while on the one hand, Kato's works bear a kind of cuteness, on the other hand the artist's works represent Japan's ancient culture of spirits and religion.

"You can find both the artist's personality and his nationality in his works," says Yan.

Asked why his paintings and his sculptures are human-like figures, Kato says: "Compared to plants and animals, human beings are more interesting to explore in art."

Kato, who now works and lives in Tokyo and Hong Kong, graduated from the oil painting department of Musashino University in 1992. But he only took up art as a profession at the age of 30.

At the opening ceremony of his show in Beijing, he and his new band performed some rock'n' roll numbers.

Kato, who plays the drums in the band which comprises other artists, says that he likes to stay at home and mostly shops online.

Some of the materials used in his works were also purchased online.

The artist keeps an open mind on the materials he uses in his works.

"I love to try new things," says Kato, who uses wood, stone, paper, leather, plastic and fabric for his art.

Kato typically spends onethird of the year at his studio in Hong Kong, which he believes is more dynamic than Tokyo.

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