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Izumi Kato, the Japanese artist who fell in love with plastic model kits and sneakers

2 min read  · 21 Jun 2023

Izumi Kato, Untitled (2021). Copyright the artist. Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery

Izumi Kato is on the HENI News radar with solo shows in London and Paris of the Japanese artist’s strange, ethereal figures, now available in kit form.

Izumi Kato’s HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment—has increased by an impressive 126%. An artist’s HENI score amalgamates data such as auction sales, NFT sales, news and social media mentions, gallery shows and museum exhibitions.


Kato's auction sales, which have totaled $9.31m over the past two years, include a string of strong results in 2023. In May, a 2008 untitled painting of his signature, embryonic-like, floating figures sold for $305,600 at Christie’s Hong Kong, more than three and a half times its upper estimate. In the same sale, a 2013 untitled painting sold for 482,000, more than one and a half times the high estimate. In March, a 2017 untitled painting sold for $728,000 at Phillips, its estimated price.

The artist’s small, painted stone sculptures have been offered for prices from $28,000 in the past two years, and paintings from $90,000.


The artist's works have been shown at leading art fairs, including Frieze and Art Basel.

Kato is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, which organised its first show of his work in London in 2022, and also by Galerie Perrotin, which opened a solo show of his work in its Paris space in June 2023.

The Paris show coincides with another solo show in London at Tiger Gallery, in association with the sports brand Onitsuka Tiger. The artist has combined sculptures of his signature figures with the brand’s sneakers and also painted them on its shoeboxes.

Izumi Kato, Parasitic: Onitsuka (2023). Copyright the artist, courtesy Tiger Gallery


Kato, who was born in 1969 and is based in Tokyo and Hong Kong, uses his hands rather than a brush to paint on canvas, wood and stone. His preferred media for sculptures is rough hewn wood or found stones. He also creates hanging figures, incorporating fabrics.

In 2023, he made his first piece of public art in Japan for the Reborn Art Festival, painting directly on locally found stone.

In 2022, he unveiled an array of figures made out of plastic for his museum solo show “Parasitic Plastic Models” at the Wateri Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan. This new departure came about during the pandemic when he developed his own plastic model kits inspired by vintage models of animals and insects he had bought online. “The stone is made out of plastic, and the decal is a painting. I think it’s a pretty good idea that connects with my works thus far,” Kato said, adding “of course, I’m also making the boxes they come in.”

Find out more

To get a deeper understanding of Izumi Kato’s career visit HENI Dashboard; a unique graphical data tool illustrating an artist’s auction sales, shows, profiles, mentions and their HENI Score. You can search for any one of the 100,000 Artist Dashboards to quickly appreciate their trajectory as well as sharing via email, text and WhatsApp.


Izumi Kato