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Painting with Drones: The Art of KATSU
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Let me first warn that these aren’t particularly pretty, but that isn’t the point. The point is that artist KATSU is remote-controlling a FLYING ROBOT that sprays paint!!!

Check out video clips of the process here.

For his current show at The Hole in New York, KATSU features a a vast range of work, including a grid of drone paintings titled “Marilyn” – a reference to Andy Warhol’s prints of the same name that also embrace errors of their production process (though in the drone works, that’s a bit of an understatement).

Installation view: KATSU, Remember the Future, at The Hole

Installation view: KATSU, Remember the Future, at The Hole

As if to transform the gallery into his personal playground, the entire floor has been covered with a few inches of black rubber chips.

Marilyn 10, 2014

Marilyn 10, 2014

Marilyn 4, 2014

Marilyn 4, 2014

Marilyn 11, 2014

Marilyn 11, 2014

Marilyn 2, 2014

Marilyn 2, 2014

dronescape 3 (day), 2014

dronescape 3 (day), 2014

Two landscapes (or “dronescapes”) join the portraits like sloppier robot-controlled versions of Impressionist paintings.

Ceramic drone swarm, 2014-2015, with Vape sculpture, 2015

Ceramic drone swarm, 2014-2015, with Vape sculpture, 2015

In the back of the gallery, a swarm of ceramic drone sculptures hang motionless from the ceiling. Every few minutes, a puff of fog shoots from the wall to form an indoor cloud that lingers mysteriously before dispersing throughout the gallery.

Ceramic drone swarm (detail) 2014-2015, with Vape sculpture, 2015

Ceramic drone swarm (detail) 2014-2015, with Vape sculpture, 2015

Now before the comment section explodes with arguments of whether or not this is a valid way to paint (or even “art” at all), consider two things:

First, if like me, you are under 60, you were born after Jackson Pollock died. I’m not saying that KATSU is the next Jackson Pollock, but I am saying that I’m too young to be offended or surprised by Pollock’s paintings. These drone paintings give me a chance to feel that uneasy mix of emotions: simultaneously fascinated by the future of the process (just imagine what this will do to graffiti) and yet I admit I’m a little irked by the idea of robo-collaboration and a greater divide between the painter and the canvas. And that’s really cool, because I can now stand in front of a Pollock, or Warhol, or Monet and really understand that “hey you can’t do that!” feeling.

Second, KATSU has a wicked sense of humor. He is famous for faking this video of himself vandalizing a famous Picasso painting at the Museum of Modern Art (yes, fake). Other works in the show include 3D printed handguns, portraits made with human feces, and a live feed of a video game he’s playing RIGHT NOW from an undisclosed location. And again, this is all viewed while standing on a rubber “playground” floor. My point is that this show will certainly change the world… but I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

What: KATSU: Remembering the Future
Where: The Hole, 312 Bowery, NYC
When: January 8 – February 22, 2015

Title image courtesy of The Hole, New York. All other images photographed by the author.

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at www.thetwopercent.com and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.