Cato: Seen!

Cato: Seen!

Cato: Seen!
7th March – 28th March, 2024
Cooke Latham Gallery
41 Parkgate Rd
London SW11 4NP

Cooke Latham Gallery is pleased to present ‘Seen!’ – the debut UK solo exhibition of South London-based artist and musician Cato, opening on 7 March and on view until 28 March 2024. Viewing the process of making music as synonymous to the act of painting, Cato’s artistic practice draws parallels with his musical hero Madlib – the American DJ, music producer, multi-instrumentalist and rapper.

Cato: Seen!
Cato The look, 2024 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 120cm
(Credit Mischa Haller)

The freedom of this musical maverick in merging and mixing jazz and blues classics resonates with the aesthetic energy in Cato’s studio where he processes numerous and varied art historical influences to create radically new figurative works that speak to identity and black culture.

A series of larger-than-life portraits will be presented for his debut UK show at Cooke
Latham Gallery
, seeing ambitious canvases skillfully combine collage, acrylics, and airbrush techniques. Drawing inspiration from found images and photographs of local Peckham characters where his studio resides, the artist explores the self-conscious act of ‘sitting’ while playfully interrogating the formulas of traditional portraiture in this new body of work.

Cato: Seen!
Cato The game, 2024 Acrylic on canvas 120 x 150cm (Credit Mischa Haller)

Taking its name from the Jamaican expression ‘Seen!’ – which references not only the act of seeing but means ‘to be understood’ – the exhibition hints to a camaraderie between the artist and the sitter, an attempted understanding of their sense of identity and circumstances. A nod to the famous studio portraits of Malik Sidibe, who Cato reveres, the subjects of his paintings are actively conscious of being viewed and of viewing each other. Some depict characters engrossed in mutual observation, while others feature individuals casting self-conscious glances beyond the frame and at the artist or viewer.

Cato: Seen!
Cato Smokestack, 2024 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 240cm (Credit Mischa Haller)

Cato’s creative process unfolds across multiple canvases simultaneously, adorning his studio walls with a mosaic of pinned portrait parts which, much like paper dolls, await animation on canvas. The delight Cato takes in creating this illusion of animation is reflected in his short films, in which realism and proportion are gleefully sacrificed for dynamism and a surrealist sense of play.

While taking inspiration from luminaries like Kerry James Marshall, Romare Bearden, and Basquiat, Cato also references filmmakers such as Lotte Reiniger and Ralph Bakishi. His paintings are alive with implied movement, and in many ways have the fierce energy of animation stills.

Cato: Seen! opens on the 7th of March until the 28th of March, 2024 at Cooke Latham Gallery

©2024 Cooke Latham Gallery