Katz has always been fascinated by fashion and the style of the moment, and in these recent works the unifying element that Katz has selected is a red hat, through which to explore the artistic possibilities of the human face foregrounded against a neutral backdrop. The paintings recall the group of portraits from the nineties Man in White Shirt, a selection of which was shown at Javier López Gallery in 2005.
In Red Hat we were able to see the distinct stages through which he creates his paintings, as he allowed us to view the steps that lead up to the final forms from the preliminary sketches. These start as studies in oil on board, where he works from life selecting detail and patterns of colour and light, then charcoal drawings where clear and subtle lines trace the main features of his model—spontaneous phases marked by their naturalism and lightness of touch.
Katz's method of making these lines and descriptive elements into his large-scale compositions follows the traditional cartoon method, transferring the images to enormous canvases by means of stencils with perforated outlines and powdered pigment. Use of the cartoon entails a simplicity of form that underlies his unmistakable style, a distinctive idiom that marked him out from his contemporaries at a time when painting in the United States reached the crisis of Abstract Expressionism and the reply offered in the concepts of Pop Art.