Interview: Kaori Kato
Luca Curci talks with Kaori Kato, one of the winners of the 6th edition of ITSLIQUID International Contest 2018.
Kaori Kato obtained her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (Honours) in 2009 and her master’s degree in Visual Art in 2010 from the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) at the University of Melbourne. Kato’s works have been included in several exhibitions nationwide in Australia, in both solo and group shows. Kato returned to Japan in 2013, and has since had her work displayed at a number of local and international shows. Kato was invited to participate in the visual arts program of the EU-Japan Fest, and held a number of workshops during the Paper Object Festival held in Riga, Latvia as part of the program created to celebrate the 2014 European Capital of Culture (ECoC). In 2019, she was commissioned to show her works in MUSMA (Museum of Contemporary Sculpture Matera, Italy) and hold several workshops for local school students as part of the ECoC Matera 2019 program. Her work was featured as part of the Vancouver fashion week SS 2019 collection, and Western Canada Fashion Week SS2020 collection, showcasing 23 different wearable paper sculptures between the two events. “I would like to thank my friend Gavin Munnelly for assisting this interview writings”, Kaori Kato.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Kaori Kato – ARTS:
Art is something that takes a whole lifetime to play with, to think about, to explore and to be ambitious with!
LC – What are you currently working on?
KK – I’m currently looking for a way to speak out despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19. Artists all over the world cannot open exhibitions to share their creative experience with anyone until the threat of COVID-19 is finally extinguished… I am also currently making some large sculptures from washi (Japanese paper) with the view for it become an installation.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
KK – I am a Japanese artist currently based in the town of Obihiro in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of Japan. The inspiration for my work stems from my childhood experiences. I always liked origami (paper folding) and the art of folding has become the foundation of my preferred method of developing my artistic ideas. When I fold sheets of paper to make sculptures, I have to touch the paper hundreds of thousands of times and the sensation of doing so connects with me on a very personal level. When I was 17 years old, I left Japan to study in Melbourne, Australia. One day, I had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Victoria as one of the excursions for studio art class I was taking at the time. There was a temporary exhibition by Australian based Japanese fashion designer Akira Isogawa showing at the time. There were many folded paper patterns displayed in the exhibition space to demonstrate the production process of his fashion pieces, which absolutely blew me away. I remember my art teacher telling me, “You’re Japanese too. Why not try making some artwork using origami?”
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
KK – I think it feels a lot like being a hungry athlete. It can be challenging to make ends meet, and there’s a constant need to challenge myself to become better, not just in the planning of my art pieces but physically as well. My own work frequently requires much physical strength to work with such large sheets of paper and I’ve had to build the strength required to create larger and more complex pieces. But I’ve experienced some rewarding journeys through my art. Isn’t it great to have specific purpose we can dedicate ourselves to and to challenge ourselves to become better with throughout our lifetime? Even if I lose the roof over my head, I don’t think I’ll ever regret being an artist (probably…).
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
KK – I think the scale of my work and colours I use have changed the most. The scale of my works used to be small, but became larger over the years. The largest works I have made to date were 2.7m tall. Similarly, I originally started using just white paper, but gradually began using black and then red. Now I use a whole spectrum of colour.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
KK – For me, it’s rarely the creating that I find challenging, but rather writing about the creation process. It’s very difficult for me to consider my production method and analyse my concepts from a critical perspective.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
KK – My preferred subject is something that encourages the expansion and enrichment our culture.