76 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
June 2 - July 29, 2023

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Perrotin is pleased to present Izumi Kato’s third solo exhibition at our Paris gallery. On this occasion, the artist will showcase new sculptures and paintings filled with hybrid creatures from his singular artistic universe.
For any connoisseur of Japanese art, the ambiguous phenomena that have characterized Izumi Kato’s work for more than two decades may seem familiar. Yet there is never any complete correspondence, only omnipresent echoes, the distinctive signs of a highly singular artistic universe.
Japan is a world of islands, waters, and a myriad of strange creatures. From time immemorial, everything there has been a source of proliferation, sometimes lively and joyful, sometimes frightening and morbid.
The vegetation, the rocks, the mountains, the gushing streams, the volcanoes, the stones, and 100-year-old things, are all receptacles or sources of buzzing animation.
Japan is a world filled with spirits: the kami of Shintoism and older primitive religions, and the yôkais, “spirits, ghosts, monsters », terrifying or seductive, populating Japan’s landscape in their infinite variety.

Every child has feared them, every adult remembers them: they have inspired Japanese artists for centuries.
Are Izumi Kato’s beings from this earth or, as is sometimes claimed, aliens from another planet? But Japan already created this non-terrestrial world centuries ago, a realm that is infra- or supra-, rather than extra-terrestrial. Here, as is well known in Japan, strangeness resides. This also applies to Izumi Kato’s odd creatures, shamanic and disturbing, melancholic yet burlesque, close cousins of the creatures produced by the visionary, defiant, and mischievous brush of the great painter Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889). Once begun, this game of correspondence never ceases to shed light on Kato’s work. The distinctive appearance of his faces, with their enlarged eyes, often without pupils, the whole shaped by nose and mouth, the impression of being covered with ritual make-up, all this has numerous echoes in the fantastical prints produced in the 19th century, during the latter part of the Edo period and the Meiji era of Imperial Japan (1868-1912).
Kato’s work must be considered in relation to Utagawa Kunyoshi’s prints (1797-1861), one of the masters of the genre. In the work of Kunyoshi, the yokai are startling hybrids with bulging eyes, large jaws, and strange faces that seem like theatrical masks.
But above all the yokai are ambiguous beings from a world whose creative powers seem endless. Looking at the hand- and footless limbs of Kato’s “characters”, one is reminded of Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi’s playful prints of « demon-shaped plants » (1844-1847). Yet what sets Izumi Kato’s creatures apart from all this pleasant, swaggering bluster is their silence. His work is characterized by a seriousness absent from the other works

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