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Cato is a multidisciplinary artist and musician based in London. Cato pairs acrylic, collage, and airbrush in his paintings, and through his practice aims to explore art history, belonging, and Black culture. Cato paints vibrant scenes, constructed from old photographs of jazz musicians, street culture, and Black heroes. The heads and hands in Cato’s paintings are depicted in outsize scale, and Cato considers how we might catch glimpses of facial expressions and become curious about people, sparking recognition and empathy. Once his figures’ heads and hands are completed, Cato cuts out these silhouettes and collages them onto a canvas ground, adding geometric collage forms cut from painted canvas to suggest interiors or street scenes. The visible edges and deliberately disjointed quality of his paintings reflect the artist’s fascination with the energy of these interactions. 

Cato’s father is a historian whose parents were from Jamaica; this cultural legacy informs the artist’s subject matter and his source material. Many images are taken from his father’s books. Cato's use of black and white embraces the appearance of vintage photography. He airbrushes white paint over a black acrylic base, ending up with a reduced palette that engages with illusions of race. The artist’s subject matter simultaneously confronts a proscribed ‘Black experience’ and explores the beauty of Black culture. He cites as inspiration Kerry James Marshall and Romare Bearden. Alongside painting, Cato is a musician and self-taught animator. His painted subjects often appear as if they are characters in an animated film, on the verge of springing to life.  

There is a deliberate disjuncture between the photorealist style of the heads and hands, and the loose geometric styles and patterns of the rest of the paintings, for which he uses brushes and paint rollers. These forms often suggest Cubist art, especially Picasso’s black and white paintings and his 1921 painting Three Musicians - which was made at the height of his Neoclassical period. Style shifting is a hallmark of Cato’s paintings, lending them a pointed strangeness at odds with the flashes of recognition he achieves. 

Cato participated in The Cabin La Brea Studio Residency, Los Angeles, CA, which was followed by a solo exhibition, and has exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China. In 2023 Cato released his EP ‘The Wind That Was Blown’ produced by Rhythm Section International. Cato's work is in The Dean Collection. 

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