Kato Shinya explores the dichotomy between new and old by painting graphic images directly onto historic cabinet cards. He emphasizes duality by contrasting his abstract painting with figurative photography.

Roland Barthes argued that every photograph is about death. Shinya creates a second life for these forgotten sepia images by adding new layers of vibrant colors and gestural brush strokes. Gradations, made primarily with a painting knife to achieve different textures, adorn the photograph to produce dynamic lively shapes. It’s as much a form of transformation as it is preservation. The artist chooses photos, detached of any personal relationship to the subject, and begins his composition reacting to the figure’s pose, facial expression, and environment. For Shinya this disassociated process preserves the past as a whole rather than individual’s memories.

Memory obeys a similar logic to photography. The passing of time that makes memory possible and necessary is also what makes memory fade. As billions of selfies flood the Internet, the value of the portrait has changed from a cherished tangible object to a fleeting moment. Kato Shinya’s use of old photos aims to change people’s perspective on photography by restoring meaning and value.

Born in Aichi, Japan currently living and working in New York.