Cabinet Cards were a style of portrait photography used in the late 1800s. They typically measured about 4 x 6 inches: large enough to be viewed from across a room when displayed in a cabinet, which is probably why it got that name.

For New York-based artist Shinya Kato, these sepia-toned cards, and the anonymous people of the past captured in the frame, offered a mysterious allure.

Shinya Kato (1)

Shinya Kato (3)

Inspired by their compositions, Kato breathes new life into these frozen moments of the past by applying colorful layers of paint and brush strokes. “Gradations, made primarily with a painting knife to achieve different textures, adorn the photograph to produce dynamic lively shapes,” explains Kato. “It’s as much a form of transformation as it is preservation.”

Kato has created 81 cabinet cards, which will all be on display together at an upcoming exhibition in New York at +81 Gallery. The show, appropriately titled “Life goes on,” opens on July 21st and runs till August 20, 2016.

Shinya Kato (5)

Shinya Kato (6)

Shinya Kato (4)