“I want to just create a new painting”

A self-taught artist, Kosuke Kato is one of the youngsters who are passionate about studying and researching art history and the contemporary scene of art. His work is created by decomposing the visual information in the scene and converting it into a geometric figure, referring to the landscape. He is interested in the background story and creating process of paintings, and his attitude always refers to the proposition of ‘What is painting in the first place?’, indicating to push the boundaries of painting. 

First of all, can you explain your painting? 
My work’s motifs are landscapes. Instead of just painting landscapes, I decompose the visual information and replace them with geometric patterns. I get my inspiration from Laura Owens. The reason why I started painting landscapes was that I wanted to create big painting. The larger the object is, the better to express the whole world of the object. Also, the landscape has a lot of information and is easy to disassemble for reintegration.

Nojima, 91×91cm

Have you been painting landscapes from the beginning? 
No, at first I used to create works combining realism painting and minimalism. I started painting when I was 23, but the idea of my style was very simple; realism painting sells quite well so if I combine the Japanese culture of ‘Wabi-Sabi’ then I thought it would be easier to sell my paintings. However, while exploring different things, I thought it would be better to create something in a way that I love to do so that was when I began to study the history and scenes of contemporary art. I went to many art museums in Tokyo and read books about art to gain knowledge. I started painting the landscape in my style around 2019. 

What is important to you when creating your work, is it the art context or your ideas/feeling? 
I focus more on tradition as I believe you need to know the tradition and history to create something new. New style of paintings can be painted by knowing the old style. I want to be a painter and at the same time, I want to be in the context of creating new paintings.

snowscape, 194×162cm

What is your view on ‘newness’? 
It may be a different po int from ‘newness’, but I find cubism interesting. Cubism is abstract yet I think the essential aim is to reintegrate the image. In that sense, I think it is similar to my painting methods as well, but I may be doing it with a different image. 

Why did you decide to become an artist in the first place?
I liked painting but never thought I had a special talent or been praised by others. It all started because of my art teacher from high school as he showed me various books about art. There was a book about Jackson Pollock and it impressed me. Curiosity that I had a beginning like “what is painting at all?” was my origin.  

Awkward Tree, 91×117cm

What are your plans for the future?
I started my landscape series in 2019 and I re-realized that my focus is on the creating process. I am interested in painting something that shows the story of what painting is and the history of painting. Another important thing is the contemporaneity. We are in a period where everyone searches about everything online. I am wondering if it would be interesting to pull images from social media and put them into my paintings as well. Adapting a good part of the current period, I am looking forward to pursuing more paintings in the future. 

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