|Thesis | The World of Teruo Sato | Work |The integrated picture

5, The integrated picture

(5)  Why wasn't a Japanese culture pictured by Sato?

   Sato had a strong awareness in his Japanese heritage more than anyone. He emphasized the importance of this when it came to drawing a picture. However, while stressing it, the objects that represent Japan were not pictured by Sato at all. Also, Sato never took Basho Matsuo (1644-1694 Japanese "Haiku" poet in Tokugawa era) whom he had been concentrating on deeply as his pictorial theme. He had the indifferent point of view on Basho, as he said, "I don't have [Mujoukan] (the Oriental transient view) which Basho had, because I have been living in an environment of modern science."
   Sato never pictured the scenery other than Japan. However, the seas pictured by Sato are composed of just clouds, skies and sea-surfaces. These are all the seas on earth. It was just that Sato happened to be watching them from the seashore of Japan; there was no reason that it must be Japan.

   If emphasizing the fact that he was Japanese, he had to be burdened with the Japanese culture. Culture exists beyond the individual. However, in Sato's case, the individual came before anything else, and that is all. Sato insistes that he was Japanese just because he, as an individual, incidentally had Japanese nationality.
   Therefore, his emphasis on the importance of awareness of being Japanese was equal to asserting the importance of himself. Such assertion, however, has no concern with the "Japonism" which buries an individual into a group.

   What Sato stressed through Japan, a "symbol", is a value and awareness of his "field" or ground as a painter.
   The "field" is the stage on which the painter selects data from the universe to produce his world, and to create a piece of work by combining it with the image. Image is the father of work and world is the mother's body. In a picture, the object of an image constructs the "figure", and the world in turn becomes the "ground" at the back. (The figure is where the appreciators' attention gathers, and the ground is the place that only a psychological function is provided to make the figure stands out.)
   What exactly becomes the "field" will vary according to the painter. The "field" is chosen entirely by the personal judgments of each painter as an artist. Sato chose Japan, i.e. the space inside the islands that are geographically identified as Japan Islands. If restricting only to the images of a nude woman, the "field" was condensed to his atelier in Japan. Once the "field" was set, Sato took root and settled there. He did not even see any other place. Foreign countries are non-existent. With regard to the female nude images, they were never drawn in the place other than his atelier. The pictures like The Lunch on the Grass" by Manet (1832-1883 French painter)" were not materialized in Sato's case.
   Integrated picture is the blend of portrait and landscape. Its strong element of programme makes it extremely difficult to be drawn as absolute picture. Portrait and landscape display the views on man and nature respectively. Still life picture is meaningless for Sato, who must picture a single world on the canvas, because it lacks a world-view. On the other hand, the world-view that integrated picture requires is of a higher order which unifies human and nature.
   Abstract picture can make the boundary between programme picture and absolute picture ambiguous. Representational painting, in turn, has a clear boundary on which the painter confronts the decision whether to produce an integrated picture or not. It is not desirable for a painter like Sato, who intends to produce an absolute picture, to draw an integrated picture. But in general, pieces known as masterpiece are most probably integrated pictures.
   A painter with the ambition to leave his name on the art history and gain a reputation would be seized by the temptation to challenge integrated picture. Sato, as one of the painters, has such ambition as well. To head for the integrated picture, the painter must beforehand clarify his attitude to society, history, politics and religion.

The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself
The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself ; 1970

   The most important integrated picture of Sato may be "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself" drawn in 1970. When producing it, Sato established a higher world- view.
   It is "The Underground Series" that became the first material for Sato to form his world-view. In this series, Sato fused social and human views by overlapping the end of a regime with human's life and death through the people who were deserted by the nation after the defeat in World War

   Here Sato extracted the aggressive and passive side of a human, assigning the former to individuals, and the latter to a group of people. This arrangement seems to have been accomplished almost by his sense.
   For Sato, who carried out a non-cultural attitude, the history, which is closely related to the culture, was the field which he did not have to be deeply involved with. Sato himself described it as follows. "The history is mainly made by people. However, I wish if the people could be symbolized." In these remarks we can sense his strong inclination to the non-cultural absolute picture.
   Drawing a group of people makes it a genre picture. However, Sato had to prevent the penetration of literature, so he depicted the individual as one. Sato said that he was convinced when facing the object from the front; he might have unconsciously noticed that depiction of individuals can exclude the literary elements hinted by a grouped people.

   He grasped two methods to produce an integrated picture: - One was to allocate death to a group of people, which incurred disruption of humanity followed by dismantlement of culture. The other was to depict a suggestive landscape in a minimum amount at a maximum preciseness.
   The integrated picture must depict both scenery and human figures. If both of them equally display their uniqueness, the world will be duplicated. In integrated picture of pure realism, neither scenery nor human figures are equipped with uniqueness; they are placed in a single world, and yet each carries its own importance. The single world is demanded for the pure realism, and it is necessary for the human figures and the scenery to be equally important in the integrated picture. Sato came up with the above two methods as a solution to this stumper.
   The death of a group of people emerges in war or natural disaster. The death of a group as a consequence of a war is a product of culture, but not as diverse as in the peaceful time. Depiction of death caused by a war narrates the culture, but its power can be weakened; this would contribute to Sato's attitude of non-culture.
   Depiction of detailed scenery in fragments with a heavy touch along with the death of a group would immediately solve three issues: - drawing both scenery and human figures, not providing originality for either of them, but keeping both of them persuasive. Sato's terrific genius
is evidenced by his capability to have done it in a piece of work.

Spring ; 1967

   The work produced with such intention is "Spring", one of his early masterpieces. Neither a small puddle in the center of the picture nor a wreckage of the people who died of thirst forms its original world; but they are tightly connected through a survival instinct, producing a single world. A number of corpse and the spring at the center respectively are giving importance to both people and scenery. Even though this picture is entitled "Spring", pictured at the center is a puddle on the asphalt.
   This is how Sato created an integrated picture of pure realism. This method was directly taken to produce "The Yellow Series". In these pictures, the corpses are placed at the center, the scenery is arranged on the side, strong yellow color is in supplementary use, and the gravel is precisely painted.
   Then, to dilute the image of the corpses at the center, their faces, which indicate the internal world of human, were removed. Composition, use of colors and lines, and the way of drawing individual objects were entirely designed based on the methodology of pure realistic integrated picture. Sato's immeasurable genius can also be sensed from his almost unintended application of such method.

On Windy Day
On Windy Day ; 1967
Drought in Summer
Drought in Summer ; 1967
Wind ; 1970

   Sato mentioned that the legs of a woman with the shoes on depicted in "On Windy Day" were added because he felt someone was scampering in the excessive heat. The figure in "Drought in Summer" is a goddess with the sun. When these elements are included, the balance would incline more towards the human. To avoid it, a group of corpses are pictured as if being melted, making it less impressive. In line with Sato's intention, more corpses are buried in the ground as the temperature increases.
   "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself" was created on the accumulation of "The Yellow Series". In this work with an open horizon, weight of the scenery is remarkably increased. Sato accordingly increased that of humans by giving them a vertical thickness. (Sato said that the pile of corpse was an idea from the cairn.)
   Meanwhile, the importance of the scenery was reduced as much as possible - by a depiction of a horizon disappearing into the darkness in the back of the scenery. Here the scenery is abstracted, and the solidness of the picture is lost by the desert-like earth covered with sands.
   While giving presence to scenery and human figures, and decreasing uniqueness of each, the picture expresses a single world ? this principle of pure realistic integrated picture was always consistent and gradually refined. Moreover, there is a decisive progress in "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself".
   In this piece, the "field" of the painter is shifted down to the ground level. In the works up to "The Yellow Series", the painter's sight was looking down to the earth. After "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself", the composition was fixed on the ground.

   The "field" is where the Existence is based on, too.wThe short sentence about "Today's realism"xwritten by Sato, has a following paragraph: "The Existence is a comprehensive proof of the self. It is to be proved in relation with others around." The "field", as frequently referred to, is a philosophical thoughts of Existence applied to the art. For Sato, the "field" was a body to support him and his idea. Consequently, the self was a major interest for him; thorough investigation of realism would take him to the point where he himself became a god.

   Sato's remarks - "Even if the God doesn't exist, it is possible for me to draw." or "Deities of YaoyorozuiJapanese indigenous polytheism) amount to the denial of god" - indicate that he foresaw what realism attains in the end.
   In integrated picture, Sato's internal world invades into a canvas without taking any forms; as a result, its penetration is difficult to be observed. In this manner, the duplication of the world is eased, and the risk of pure realism's disruption is avoided. It is only a gifted genius who can play such a ropewalking-like performance.

    "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself"has a companion work,"Wind". ("Wind" has another name "Rotou" which means corner of the road in Japanese.) This was drawn soon after "The Token on Wilderness Inside of Myself" had completed. In Sato's words, in "Wind" bright and dark contrast is weakend and the grasses were drawn on the sand out of composure. Incidentally, according to Sato, the red character on the blue background in flag depicted in "Wind" means "wind" in Sanskrit.

                                                  \ Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama@\                                                   \ Original translation is rewritten by Michiko Takahashi Christofis \

This text must not be translated into any other language without author's permission.

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