After Hours Painting
'I hate well-painted paintings'; any artist who makes such a statement is bound to get our attention. Even if it is someone we don't yet know, as applied in the case of the Japanese artist Tetuji Kato. The exhibition that opens on Saturday 13 September was organised through the mediation of Morgan Betz, one of the gallery's regular artists. During a recent stay in Japan, he happened to meet this eccentric man who is also largely unknown in his home country. A passionate and extraordinarily versatile figure, for whom painting is an absolute necessity. He earns a living from his fishing retail business, but by vocation he is an artist. A curious combination that has generated an equally curious collection of challenging and maladjusted paintings. And it is quite true: not one is 'well painted'.
It is frequently the Einzelgänger in art who discard the burden of history, who possess so much originality that nothing weighs them down. Who produce artworks with no clear connection to anything else, that transport you into virgin territory. That was how I experienced my first encounter with Kato's work. Unconsciously you keep trying to place the work in some category, but too much knowledge can be counter-productive. Kato does not appear to be the kind of man to inject a message into his paintings; on the contrary, he seeks to divest it of any possible message. A brazen Romantic who paints his own fantasy world in an awkward, colourful and tactile way. A one-man punk band laden with an obsessiveness that I associate, in spite of myself, with parts of Japanese culture. I can't help myself: through my eyelashes I see echoes of Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami. It seems that finding such associations is an inner compulsion.
Kato’s works are an assault on good taste and common sense. Are we looking at the kitsch of an ignoramus or a new, embryonic strand of art history? In any case, the work chafes against all our sensibilities and that in itself makes a visit to see it more than worthwhile. I hope that you are able to come and see this for yourself.