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.