Through drawings, paintings and animations, Hideyuki Katsumata invites you into a fantasy world that is not only his largest exhibition to date, but also his first in the UK. Coming from a background of fashion design and creating artworks for musical clients via record sleeves and animations for music videos for artists such as Little Dragon and CUZ, it is clear that Katsumata’s work is firmly rooted, and at home, in global and all-embracing pop culture.
Regarding his practice, Katsumata, an artist coming from no formal background of art studies, describes his “teacher” as culture, his environment and his friends. His work takes the role of presenting stories, be they in print, drawing or animation, of fantasy monsters and gods that he has described as existing already within his mind. This natural and refreshing approach in his work makes it ripe for engagement with audiences spanning all age groups. There is a sense of honesty in Katsumata’s work that can be felt across all aspects of his multifaceted practice, whether that be down to the choices in paper that he draws on (old sheet music, or the back of a sketchbook), the messages of peace and respect in his animations or the fact that, in his work, Katsumata is fundamentally looking to unfold and share a world with his audience. Katsumata’s generosity, in this sense, is undoubtedly something that can be felt by the audience through his intuitive and sometimes transitory work. A great example of this is the large-scale, site-specific mural “Gatemaster” that the audience is presented with in USO de HONTOU. It flows throughout the walls of the galleries and, unable to be contained by them, spills out into Level 4 of the DCA.
As an audience, we are given the chance to become enchanted by a place that exists between real and mystical, and thanks to the curation of the work, we are also given the chance to take a seat along with other visitors and share a viewing experience of music videos. Enjoyed while relaxing on an array of colourful yoga mats, this element keeps to the kaleidoscopic scheme of Katsumata’s work.
There is an interesting proximity between the “online” – videos and animations, projected or displayed on screen – and the traditional methods of drawing, painting, and printmaking. These aspects of Katsumata’s work in USO de HONTOU open up opportunities to create a shared experience and accessibility – doubly so with the comfortable, communal viewing platform provided by the yoga mats – thus provoking and interesting points of discussion among audience members of different age groups. This, in turn, opens discussions about the way in which we view art today.
In his work, Katsumata offers the audience a lot to think about, and even more to look at. Visually perplexing, transcendental and fun – the audience is taken into his interventional “unreal” reality, embraced within it and then bid farewell by some of the artist’s own creatures at each exit. Once you have spent some time amongst the work, however “far out”, it is very hard not to return and dwell a little more.
NB This exhibition was programmed to coincide with the Discovery Film Festival 2015 (running Sat 24 Oct – Sun 8 Nov) which combines screenings workshops as well the opportunity to visit this exhibition for audiences aged 3+.