Katz is interested in seizing upon the instant moment of perception in painting rather than faithfully rendering images in a documentary way. He describes this moment as an explosive “flash” before an image comes into focus and calls it “the present tense.” The painting 10:30 am, for example, transforms the instant moment of seeing into an enveloping and epic experience of a stand of birch trees animated by dappled sunlight.

Katz’s formal economy is essential to his notion of the present tense. The contours of his lines and juxtaposition of forms are exactingly deliberate and result from a drawn-out process in the studio, where he refines and calibrates the original composition in order to arrive at a direct, concentrated image.

However, Katz describes his style as having roots in abstraction. Indeed, his works such as 10:30 am (2006) are characterized by allover composition that at first appears to be spontaneous, as in the gestural painting style generally associated with artists like Jackson Pollock. But Katz determined its composition in advance, allowing him the freedom to use paint in a rapid, physical manner, most apparent in his treatment of leaves across the surface of the painting, in pursuit of the “present tense.”