In the meantime, when making dessins of human body, Sato put effort in expressing a "sense of weight"
of the object, in addition to its modeling. This was a confirmation of
"Ptolemaic rechange" that was shown in the person part, and differed from the issue of composition.
Sato said that to express the modeling and weight of the object was also
an expression of his "deep devotion" towards the object. He seemed
to think that the biggest weapon of a representational painter was this "deep devotion" that derived from a thorough care with
the object. He thought also that, this was the very factor that brings
depth into a representational picture, which was itself a mere reproduction of an object.
Since he rarely depicted individual things other than human being, it can
be said that this "deep devotion" to the object is synonymous
with love for humans. This had been his lifelong issue, from the moment
he was caught by the desire to paint not pictures but humans while drawing
dessins of a homeless at the subway in Ueno (the north-east of Tokyo).
As mentioned earlier, the backbone of Sato's picture composition can be
summarized in three: "Method of Walled Middleground", "Method of Suggestive Background" and "Method of Dual-natured Foreground" These are components of "perspective plan" composition, and by combining them in various ways, a variety of compositions
are build. This is the true instance that proves the saying that says,
the greater, the simpler is its essence.
No Title 7 ; 1999
Yet, as in an example of complete etude shown in the left (No Title 7), where a nude woman lies in a pose that goes toward the inner part of
the picture, there is no such a thing as background. In such a case where
the background does not exist, there is neither the need to use the above-mentioned
technique in areas related to it, that is, the middleground and foreground.
As a result, where the model lay in such a pose, only the object was drawn
in Sato's work. In other words, this became a complete etude, as in many
(In portrait, standing pose and lying pose in horizontal are the ones that "The Wall of Pamirs" is felt most strongly, followed by sitting pose. The lying pose in vertical
is the weakest in this matter.)
In this case, features of "perspective plan" can be strengthened
by drawing scenery in the upper part of the model, constituting the background.
However, in such a way, there would be no space for "The Wall of Pamirs".
Even if it is drawn, it would be only the bottom part of the Wall, which
would weaken the effect of suggesting a background. On the other hand,
if to draw a big "Wall of Pamirs", the main object, that is nude
woman, would descend to a mere supplementary object.
No Title 8 ; 1994
No Title 9 ; 2001
(As in the picture on the right hand "No Title 8", if the model's head is in the inner part of the picture with the upper
part of the body erected, it becomes possible to place "The Wall of
Pamirs" behind, as pure setting.)
Here, by adding another model in standing pose, it would become possible
to draw "The Wall of Pamirs" behind her. But if done so, two
personalities would appear inside a work and would destroy Sato's pure realism. As previously mentioned, "The Wall of Pamirs" is the core of
Sato's composition and pure realism is his fundamental picture philosophy.
There is no room for a work without these elements in terms of his picture
In the meantime, the picture of nude woman on the right (No Title 9) strikes a horizontal lying pose. What is more, there is no "Wall
of Pamirs". A picture like this is very rare. But as we can see in
the joints of the floor, there is a thorough use of horizontal line in
this picture. Since Sato was a painter who had a personal preference for
horizontal lines, he probably came to a state of mind where did not matter
if there was no "Wall of Pamirs" if there was a thorough use
of these lines.
In Sato's picture, except for cases such as woman in lying pose, there
was always a use of one or more of the above-mentioned three techniques
of composition building. Among these, especially important is the "Method
of Walled Middleground" which is used in the area where the main object
is placed. As mentioned earlier, "The Wall of Pamirs" placed
here is the very basis of Sato's composition.
The Sea of Japan ; 1973
We will use concrete examples to show the importance of "The Wall
of Pamirs". In Sato's picture of sea, only sea and sky in drawn. (For
instance,"The Sea of Japan"). No complementary object is drawn on the sea surface, and only sometimes
birds are drawn in the sky area. The background is clearly expressed in
the form of horizon. Sky extends to the universe: this goes against Sato's
Ptolemaic system of picture and hence, it is always covered with thick
cloud. However, sea in the background is depicted very precisely.
If we see it straightforwardly, there seems to be no "Wall of Pamirs"
here. But if we analyze deeper, we can say that the sea surface is in fact
"The Wall of Pamirs" itself. If we think of the whole sea as
a running water tank, we can see it as an object resembling a huge wall.
This is why Sato's sea is not blurred in the background, and as in the
foreground, is precisely depicted like miniature.
As shown in the person part, for Sato, sea was the substitute of God, and
the only legitimate spouse of art. Thus, it had to be drawn clearly from
end to end. Moreover, in terms of composition, since the whole sea represented
"The Wall of Pamirs" which was the core of his picture, there
was an absolute need to be minutely depicted.
sea surface is not a material wall, but is made so by a picture illusion. A
subtle balance is accomplished between this material attribute and its
Therefore, because such a balance can collapse anytime if additional things
enter here, there must not be anything other than water in Sato's sea.
From the point of view of realism, there is no reason to prohibit the drawing
of reefs and ships on the sea. However, in order to protect "The Wall
of Pamirs", these must never be drawn. In other words, for Sato, "The
Wall of Pamirs" prevailed over the demands of realism.
In the person part, we have shown that in Sato's world-view, land and sea
are clearly divided, and that sea carries the meaning of a pure nature
that is isolated from human being. But from a compositional point of view,
nothing should be drawn on the sea surface in order to maintain the illusionary
effect of "The Wall of Pamirs".
Also, the fact that the whole ocean represents "The Wall of Pamirs"
is confirmed by the position of horizon. In Sato's sea, it never happens
that the horizon comes in the bottom half of the canvas.
Its reason is that a low horizon would destroy "The Wall of Pamirs".
As repeatedly argued, this is the core of Sato's composition, and a part
of his important picture style, and hence it ought not to be destroyed
by such a thing as Sato's personal feeling.
If for Sato, the whole sea represents "The Wall of Pamirs", then
the sky becomes the background in its true meaning. Therefore, clouds are
always drawn in order to suggest the space that lies beyond. That is, the
"Method of Suggestive Background" is neatly used in this part.
In this way, Sato's picture style was rigorously followed in the aspect
of composition building as well.
The Sea between Korean Peninsula and the
〜Invitation from Oriental Deism〜 ; 1999
The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself ; 1970
The Inheritance ; 1974
The Neo-Pyramid Times ; 1989
Then, what about the "Method of Dual-natured Foreground" in sea
picture? We verify it using the example of "Genkai" (The Sea between Korean
Peninsula and the Japan Islands 〜 Invitation from Oriental
Deism〜). The characteristic of this picture is the huge white wave spray, drawn
in the foreground. This covers the bottom part of the screen like a snowfield,
to the limit of being unnatural. A wave crest stands around the center.
wave on the foreground is a kind of object that has form. But it is immediately
absorbed by the sea surface, hence it is a part of the sea as a plane. The
plane becomes then a part of the setting. This means that this wave is a
subordinate object that is integrated into the plane, akin to the carpet in the
picture of nude woman discussed earlier.
Thus, the white wave spray is an object and at the same time a setting,
and it is drawn in the foreground. This is an excellent use of the "Method
of Dual-natured Foreground". Also, since this wave is an element of
the sea, "The Wall of Pamirs" does not run the risk of being
As aforementioned, "Method of Dual-natured Foreground" places
a subordinate object in the foreground, producing a sense of distance between
it and the middleground. This is a feature of "perspective plan"
as well. Also, the main object is emphasized by making the subordinate
object assume the nature of setting. This is an effect of "projection plan".
Now, in this picture, a diagonal wave is drawn around the middleground. This wave bears the role of main object while the waves in the foreground are its subordinates. The inclined wave, as shown in person part, is appropriate to express simultaneously and effectively the horizontality of wave and wind. But in addition to it, this wave is drawn also in order to emphasize the composition of "perspective plan" at the middleground of "The Wall of Pamirs".
Thus, expressed in this wave are: the world view framework that shows how the inclined wave, in relationship with the wind, affects the horizontality; and his original, compositional sense of formation that integrates "perspective plan" and "projection plan". All of these factors lie behind this trivial object, and this is the very creative achievement that only true artists can accomplish.
In the meantime, in pictures of landscape, small hills and forest play
the role of "The Wall of Pamirs". In Sato's landscape picture
of real world, the horizon that sets the background is not directly drawn,
being only suggested under the sky.
Now, in works of integrated pictures such as "The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself" and in a series of works that belong to its genealogy, horizon is clearly
drawn. However, these pictures are not depictions of a real world, but
a concretization of Sato's interior. There, unusual objects such as corpse,
skeleton and mountain of scrapped cars are placed at the center, interrupting
the horizon in the middle. These strongly draw the attention of the viewer
and psychologically weaken the existence of background. Thus, we can say
that this unusual object in the center constitutes a psychological "Wall
― Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama ―
― Original translation is rewritten
by Chigusa Tanzawa ―
This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's
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