The World of Teruo Sato ; Summarized Edition
Third part : Technique
Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama
Original translation is rewritten by Chigusa Tanzawa
Original text is written in Japanese.
Complete edition will be translated into English in the future.
This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's permission.
The quality of picture depends upon technique. However technique
is a method or an instrument that is prescribed by something other than
the painter. Hence, it cannot be the factor that determines the quality
of the artwork, but a necessary condition that adjusts the state of the
Therefore, it is an illusion to think that an artwork can be made
just by having technique: This kind of thought is an evil product of technicism. Technicism present in today's modern world, makes people blind about the changing values caused by scientific thinking; present in art, it neglects the insight into the world that creates an artwork.
In art, this insight works through intuition, which is named "inspiration".
Inspiration goes through the character and the ability of the individual
as mediator, and plays a decisive role in the creation of art, being called
"Talent" resides inside the individual, and while it is possible to refine it with experience, it can never be added from the outside. On the other hand, technique can be, to some extent, mechanically implanted from the outside.
Therefore, in terms of its mechanisms of origin, creative talent
and technical talent are two completely different concepts. The former
ferments spontaneously within a personality, whereas the latter is
formed by training. Even if two painters have a similar education, the
acquisition of these two talents can differ enormously from each other.
If we limit our observation to a superficial level, these two types
of talent are seen as operating in the same dimension, and it becomes impossible
to make a fundamental distinction between the two. Here arises
evil technicism, which reduces the act of creation to a mere technique.
Anyone can become an artisan with training. But it is impossible to instruct
the creation of art to those who do not possess the core talent that is
to be polished. This is why "artisan" has historically been sternly
distinguished from "artist". Artists, unlike artisans, are endowed
with the ability to set a new technical framework.
In other words, artists possess a guiding principle for technique. With this principle,
artists can either manipulate an existing technique, or in some cases,
create a new one. An artisan, on the other hand, is no more than a switch,
or a part of an existing technique.
A more concrete explanation of this guiding principle would describe it
as supported by one's world-view. It can be said that world-view is a solid
and still creative way of seeing the world one lives in. Here we examine
again the meaning of world defined in the outset of the work part.
World is the container that accommodates the image. As previously
described, it serves as the mother's body of a picture work. We can compare
the concept of world-view with the idea of choosing the best dish to serve a food. In this example, a picture
work is equivalent to the combination of dish and food: one cannot make
the picture if he/she does not have the ability to select a dish. However,
what an artisan does is only to paint the color of the dish or to adjust
the temperature to cook the food.
Image and world are integrated in a stage called "field" and an artwork is created. As mentioned in the work part, "field"
is selected by the artist, based on his/her personality, backed by his/her
individual history and by the cultural environment he/she was born.
An artwork is created by arranging the image that the painter recognized
and took into him/herself, in a world created by his/her world-view. Here
image materializes into object, and world penetrates into setting.
In the work part and person part, these two (object and setting)
were simply cited separately, but in an actual picture work, the painter
sometimes intends to obscure the distinction between the two. Also, since
abstraction is a technique that is used to weaken the distinction, these
two are made undistinguishable as the degree of abstraction raises.
As for the object, distinction is also placed between main and subordinate
object. As for the setting, the ones close and far from object are distinguished
from each other. If the shape of the object is not clear, if it transforms
or it is small, its existence itself can be incorporated into the setting.
In such cases, object and setting overlap.
Moreover, as mentioned in the person part, there exists a subjective composition element that differs according to the position of the painter as observer. If
this changes, such things as the shape of the object and the mutual relationship
between setting and object change as well. This change influences the meaning
that object and setting carry. In this way, the distinction between object
and setting becomes obscure and their relationship becomes extremely complicated,
bearing the variety of the picture. The variety of the picture is made
However, the fact that object and setting exist and together constitute
a picture does not change. These two are always the elements of a picture
and composition is a plan that decides how to arrange them. That is to
say, object and setting are the components of picture and composition.
The arrangement of object and setting is done by a schematic ability of recognition, which relates largely to the painter's world-view. In other words, we
can say that an innate and unique spatial recognition makes part of the
creative ability of the painter as artist, creating his/her world-view
Certainly, world-view and composition differ in their nature. World-view
is a capacity that the painter has as a person, and people other than artist
are not prevented from having it, too. World-view is held by artists other
than painters as well: musicians and poets insert sounds and words in the
world and doing so they create their artwork. World is the universal mother's
body of art.
In contrast, determining a composition is a special professional ability
of the painter. This is triggered or formed by operations that can be performed
only painters, such as processing an image and building settings.
However, since world-view and composition are essentially similar to each
other, when the painter works on the world-view, an automatic professional
reaction occurs and he/she advances towards determining the composition.
This means that, the world-view serves as the basis of the guiding principle
of technique and, at the same time, influences the decision of composition
through a painter's concrete work.
Further, world-view can be divided into human-view and nature-view; human-view
in turn, if spreading over various individuals constitutes a society-view.
Also, as a concept opposing to it, civilization-view can be introduced
into the category of nature-view. Human-view and nature-view become the
guiding principle of the painting technique and are related to the composition
building. As shown in the work part, human-view becomes the basis of portraits
and nature-view becomes that of landscape pictures. World-view, which incorporates
all of these views, becomes the guiding principle for integrated pictures.
World-view forms the basis of the world, which in turn, forms the
mother's body of an artwork, but
strictly speaking, is not the world itself. Even if one does not have
any world-view, it is still possible for him/her to create a world as a
basis of a picture. The world-view is nothing more than a catalyst for
the creation of a world by the painter. It enables the painter to create
his/her own world continuously and moreover developmentally. Without this,
a painter would create an artwork accidentally. It is possible to
possess a world without having a world-view, but never can one possess
a world-view without having a world of his/her own.
From what discussed above, it can be concluded that, when arguing comprehensively about painter's technique, the closest concept to its guiding principle is composition. Therefore, in this technique part, theory of composition will be discussed first. Then, we proceed to a discussion on color and line as the instrumental essence of the technique that is decided by the content of the composition. Finally, we discuss the choice and arrangement of medium (this refers to the picture methods such as oil pigment, pastel, Conté.) which is an instrument in itself, from the point of view of "matière" building. In addition, we describe how the world-view comes into
play in all of these elements according to specific contexts.
As mentioned above, artisans who cannot build a world of their own cannot
have their world-view, and hence, they cannot build a world that accommodates
their image. This means that they never participate in composition building.
Therefore, for them, technique limits to color and line, and to choice
of medium. Medium relates indirectly to the composition through color and
line. Hence, for artisans who do not have a world-view, using the medium
becomes the main issue of concern.
Thus, artisans are possessed by the idea that it is possible to draw
a picture only by deciding how to use the material of pigment, the density
of the canvas' surface, or the degree of oil dissolution. The main concern
of artisan is the medium, and hence he/she concentrates great energy on
issues such as deciding which is better to making vivid blue, a transparent
oil pigment or an acrylic pigment. An artisan tends to hold the illusion
that once this kind of problem is solved, he/she can immediately draw
a picture. For them, composition is no more than an additional factor.
In other words, while artisans and artists are both engaged in creation activity, there exists a deep and big crevasse that separates these two. Sato says "Anyone can enter the field of picture. But for a painter, the most difficult task is to decide what to draw." These words express concisely the relationship between artists and artisans.
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