Izumi Kato “Lithographs”

Gallery Perrotin Tokyo

poster for Izumi Kato “Lithographs”
[Image: Izumi Kato, Untitled, 2017. Lithograph. 70 x 56.5 cm / 27 9/16 x 22 1/4 in. 13/36 + 7 AP. Photo: Kei Okano. ©2017 Izumi Kato. Courtesy the Artist and Perrotin.]

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Pop-up exhibition of selective lithographs produced by Japanese artist Izumi Kato in collaboration with Idem Paris, in honor of his upcoming solo exhibition in Hong Kong.
Since emerging onto the art scene in the late 1990s, Kato has been depicting primitive organisms across paintings and sculptures that probe the source of life. Anonymous silhouettes of budding life forms; androgynous creatures with uncanny expressions; human figures blown out of proportion – these are but elements of the primordial imagery that characterizes his ongoing experiment with form, medium and texture.
Seemingly devoid of narrative elements, his works exude a humble appreciation of worldliness and physicality hailing from years of experience as a manual laborer. This is achieved by applying, or rather, kneading the pigment onto the unprimed canvas directly with his hands, as if to impart energy to his prehistoric tropes.
Building on this performative nature of Kato’s eerie creations, the lithographs on display exemplify the same intuitive physicality from the outset. Originating from the late 18th century, lithography reproduces original works by directly drawing on the printing surface made of Bavarian limestone (unlike traditional printing methods, in which the printmaker carves out the image on a metal plate). Based on the principle that grease and water do not mix, Kato draws on a special stone with tusche, a grease-based medium, to achieve a more painterly effect. After chemical treatment, water-receptive non-printing areas and grease-receptive image areas are produced on the surface such that oil-based ink will only adhere to the latter as it rolls over. Paper and stone are then run through a press and a print is taken.
Kato’s prints hark back to the proliferation of lithography as both a democratic art form and a medium of advertising in the 19th and 20th centuries. In his 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production,” critic and theorist Walter Benjamin argues that artworks once had an aura derived from the presence of the original, which has been eliminated by the potential for mass reproduction in photography and film. With this in mind, one may say that Kato’s lithographs – an assemblage of the gestural draughtsmanship, unique visual language and iconic motifs running through his oeuvre – are a revival of the aura from binary oppositions of original/copies, authenticity/reification, and art/commodity.
The very fact that colors must be overprinted on top of each other separately renders the production process a highly laborious task - one that Kato executes to exacting standards. The result is a haptic visuality released with exuberant abandon. As Laura Marks says, ‘[Haptic visuality] yields to the thing seen, [and] acknowledges its location in the body’ 2. Conceived from the artist’s coordination of bodily memory and attitudes, as well as his physical manifestation of the human endeavor, Kato’s lithographs transpose the cognitive to the gestural. As such, the body is no longer the obstacle that isolates life from art, concealed from the canvas; it is, on the contrary, that which art plunges into in order to reach the pulsation of life – the quiet yet poignant aura.
*At this exhibition featuring 10 lithographs, 3 limited editions of each lithograph, totaling 30 limited editions, will be available for purchase.

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Schedule

from December 15, 2017 to December 28, 2017

Artist(s)

Izumi Kato

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