Izumi Kato

'Stand By You'

In Stand By You, Japanese artist Izumi Kato invites viewers into his uncanny world, populated by spectral figures that inhabit the liminal space between the physical realm and the territory of spirits. These creatures, with bulbous heads and slim, graceful bodies, recall the anatomy of embryos, children, or alien forms. At once charming, haunting, and humorous, they tower over viewers or hide discreetly in corners — solitary beings brought together in communion through careful and considered placement within the gallery.

Signature image for Izumi Kato exhibition
Izumi Kato, "Untitled," 2021, oil on canvas, 76 3/8 x 102 3/4 in. Photo by Kei Okano. Courtesy of the artist. © 2021 Izumi Kato.

Kato’s practice is rooted in painting, which provides a basis for unbridled experimentation. When creating within the structure of a traditional two-dimensional canvas, he applies paint directly to the surface with his hands, without the intervention of a brush — a visceral and intuitive process that prioritizes bold color and confidently articulates formal qualities. Kato’s figures, however, often expand beyond the constraints of the rectangular picture plane, with cut canvas appendages and free-standing limbs and torsos. Some works hang from the gallery ceiling like hovering apparitions, anchored to the floor by found rocks like a tether to the physical realm.

Sensitive to the unique properties of the specific locales in which he shows his work, Kato carefully scouts sites for unconventional media to serve as the substrates of his sculptures. Like kami, the Japanese spirits of Shintoism that inhabit all things, Kato’s creatures are made manifest in a wide range of materials — from found driftwood and stones to cast vinyl dolls and traditional regional textiles — as if the artist conjures a spiritual being from his raw materials.

About the artist

Portrait of Izumi Kato

Izumi Kato (b. 1969, Shimane, Japan) has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing, China (2020, 2018); Fundación Casa Wabi, Puerto Escondido, Mexico (2019); Hara Museum, Tokyo and Gunma, Japan (2019); Kirishima Open-Air Museum, Kagoshima, Japan (2012); The Ueno Royal Museum Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2008), among others. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT), Hong Kong, China (2020); Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2017); and the Japan Society, New York (2005). His public art projects include Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts, Hong Kong, China (2018–2021), and his work is held in the collections of the prominent museums in Japan, including Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. In 2007, he took part in the 52nd Venice Biennale International Exhibition, curated by Robert Storr. Kato is represented by Perrotin and has had exhibitions at gallery locations in Paris, New York, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai. He graduated from the Department of Oil Painting at Musashino Art University in 1992. The artist lives in Tokyo, Japan and Hong Kong, China.

Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli

Install Views

Programs and events


Stand By You is organized by SCAD MOA associate curator Ben Tollefson.


Museum Admission

The exhibition is free for museum members and SCAD students, faculty, and staff with a valid SCAD Card. Open to the public with the cost of museum admission.

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