For Sato, the most important theme was himself. Therefore, the paintings
which were self-projected were drawn in the tableau form of "an opened picture". The most important genre among his non-self-portrait paintings
was women in the nude. Women in the nude images were the place where he
spouted his living instincts.
Since 1990s, Sato's work was starting to concentrate on women in the nude
and the sea. Since, for Sato, the sea was the extreme point of death, in
order to keep a balance, he had to draw in the same piece women in the
nude which was the center of life.
Taking over "The Sleeping People at the Underground
Passage", the paintings of women in the nude are showing the most different postures
in the portraits. The laying-down pose that a body is stretched horizontally
is usually a pose that suggests death. However, since women in the nude
belong to the internal world in Sato's mind the source of energy of
life comes from, the shadow of death does not enter even when the horizontal
pose is drawn.
Falling Ill 1 ; 1976
Falling Ill 2 ; 1976
When they leave Sato's atelier even one step, the shadow of death starts
to follow immediately. For example, even the sleeping figure of his wife
who is very close to Sato as seen in the two pieces of "Falling Ill" series is carrying death when leaving Sato's house. (These are painted
after his wife was sent to a hospital.)
It seems that "Impression" which is one of four elements of Sato's
art is in the art-for-art principle. The other three elements are stated as follows: "Amusement"
shows him putting his heart and soul to the common world, "Truth"
shows the pure realism, and finally "Love" implies his paternal kindness.
Since the objects in "The Sleeping People at the Underground
Passage" existed at the edge of life, most of them were drawn in a sleeping
posture. In other words, there was not even one person standing at the
underground passage in Ueno, and you will never see anyone lying down in
Sato's neighborhood. In Sato's world of paintings, death only exists
outside. Therefore, there are people filled with vitality around his house.
At the end, at the seashore which is the farthest place from his house
no one will be seen.
Only woman in the nude images are put in his atelier. Therefore the sleeping
pose of these women in the nude do not mean death but mean the sense of
relaxation in the activity.
The Youth ; 1980
No Title 2 ; 1986
The standing pose means the excitement in the activity. The sitting pose
is in between the sleeping pose and standing pose. The tendency of living
is the strongest in the standing pose. Similar examples can be seen in
"The Youth" and the woman in the nude image at page 40 (No Title 2) in the collection of his paintings.
For Sato the objects that were drawn in the non-self-portrait were only
an outside existence and he did not sympathize with them. Also a shadow
of death could not be seen around Sato. Therefore, even when a personal
acquaintance of Sato passed away, he or she did not become a theme for
his painting. For this reason, when encountering his wife's death, the
style of his painting did not change at all.
Sato received a great personal impact on his life when his
wife hopelessly became ill. However, on the other hand, Sato's calm eyes
as a painter worked and tried to paint death of one human being as a solemn
fact. At this time, while suffering from the fact that he had to stand
in between being a husband and a professional painter, Sato completed a piece called
"Falling Ill ". The same attitude could be seen when Sato was working on "The Sleeping People at the Underground Passage".
When painting on these works, Sato remembered that Claude Monet (1840-1926 French painter) was drawing the death of his wife as well.
Then, he said that he admired deep inside his heart that Monet did not
change his style as an impressionist when he was painting the shocking fact that his wife was dying. Whatever
situation Sato faced, he never lost a sight of himself as a painter.
This was proved on the occasion of his own death. He even
tried to put his fatal disease out of his life. To be exact, he refused
to accept the fact that his sickness was never going to get better. In
keeping with his belief that he was center of life, he overcame the death
of his body.
Two pastel works below were drawn about three months prior
to Sato's death. However, without considering the fact of his death these
works still incorporate Sato's unique style.
Last Pastel 1 ; 2002
Last Pastel 2 ; 2002
― Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama ―
― Original translation is rewritten
by Tomoko Daijo McLean ―
This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's
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