The Floating Whirl - Playful Watercolors, Thoughtful Oils
Katsu Yokoyama was born in Tokyo, Japan and had his early schooling in his home country desiring always to be an artist but eventually working in drafting and architecture since he was dissuaded by others from living an impoverished life of an artist. At the age of 20 he followed his sister to the United States, emigrating and seeking to make this his permanent home.
During the Vietnam conflict Katsu was drafted into the army and because of his background was assigned to the Corps of Engineers. His brush with death there was for him a sign that he had to pursue his dream as an artist. He signed up for art classes at Los Angeles City College, particularly enjoying his friendship with Raoul De la Sota, who at that time was teaching a painting class. He transferred to Cal State Northridge while working as a house painter. Soon after that he became a naturalized citizen.
Katsu had always been aware of the work of the Japanese artist and printmaker, Hokusai, whose art spanned the 18th and 19th centuries, but never before had he seen him as a parallel to his own dreams of being an artist. Hokusai had been a revolutionary artist breaking so many aesthetic traditions with his work that collectors of his work often hid Hokusai’s work among their collections because of his rebellion against the established norms. Katsu saw him as a symbol of an artist true to his calling and thus about ten years ago began his subtle updating of the “36 Views of Mount Fuji,” the classic work of Hokusai. He admits that, “I learned almost all my sense of patience by doing those challenging works.” Katsu continues to see his work as always working from nature, just as Hokusai would always work from forms in his homeland.