|Thesis | The World of Teruo Sato |Technique|3-3 Line
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(3)  Line

@  Initial Remarks

    It was already argued that line, together with color, is the essence of painting instrument, and also the essence of the medium arrangement. The role of line in a picture differs enormously between abstract painting and representational painting.
   As shown in the outset of the work part, the handling of image and world as the implement of the painter is the opposite for abstract painting and representational painting. In representational painting, the world dissolves the image. In this way, image becomes a reproduction of the things which can be recognized by human sense. On the other hand, abstract painting operates an image freely and drags the world into it. In this way, both image and world lose the concrete forms that they can give to one's sense.
   The way field is established differs, too. In a representational painting, this is formed in the outside world, which includes the painter's body, and is placed in a specific cultural and historical context. In contrast, in an abstract painting, field is formed in the inside idea, including the painter's mind and transcends nations and times. Sato emphasized the fact that he was Japanese, but this is not because he was fanatic about Japanese culture, but because as a representational painter, he clearly recognized the importance of a concrete place in which field was established.
   Representational painting weds strictly to forms while abstract painting dismantles them. Representational painting has a strong feature of reproduction of the nature. Yet, in the natural world, lines do not exist. Lines can all be replaced by color difference, and are eliminated at the end. Therefore in a representational painting, lines are present only in dessins.

    Since abstract painting is not a reproduction of the nature, lines and colors may be equally present. Both are equally emphasized and there is no discrimination between the two. Sato was a thorough representational painter, and so he originally used line only for dessins. In a tableau work, all the lines are supposed to disappear when the work is complete. However, in Sato's case, between a pure dessin and a tableau there was etude, which was divided into complete etude and incomplete etude.
    In Sato's etude, the lines of a sketch were either left as they are, as extensions or as coexisting lines that stretched from the painted area, or continued to exist as color lines. In many cases, they were left in the extremities of the limb. In these simple remains of lines, Sato expressed the duality of line and color as the essence of the instrument of picture.iNo Title 18`20)

No Title 18
No Title 18 ; 1985
No Title 19
No Title 19 ; 2000
No Title 20
No Title 20 ; 1998

   Then, from his standpoint as a representational painter, he extended his vision even on what lines should be in an abstract painting. Sato himself said that with the remains of a line in etude, he had in mind the wring of human body similar to that of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966 Swiss painter). In this way, he possessed a flexible viewpoint that could even make representational painting, which was his basic picture style, relative.
   The attributes of line that are used in picture are: width, density, and curvature. Below we will examine the meaning of each of these attributes.

A  Width of the Line

   The width of the line has the effect of gathering the viewer's consciousness on the object. In other words, it strengthens the above-mentioned feature of "figure". From this perspective, it can be said to be a subjective attribute.
   Also, if we change the degree of attention that a "figure" receives according to the width of the line, then the central "figure" is drawn with thick line, and the supplementary "figure", that supports the central "figure" from the surroundings, with thin line. Such arrangement of "figure" is plane and suits "projection plan".

19 ; 1955
11 ; Date unknown
13 ; Date unknown
2 ; Date unk
Evidea ; 2000

   In works of Sato, the only cases in which lines are clearly left are dessin and etude. From Sato's dessin collection "The Sleeping People at the Underground Passage", we will pick up two works whose objects are drawn with outlines of different width. These are shown on the left. For the upper drawing 19 and the lower 11, the outlines of the person as the object clearly differ in their width.
   A noticeable difference between the two is that in the drawing 19, the surrounding of the person is strongly calling Sato's attention. That is to say, it is feasible to think that Sato's interest is not directed only to the model. In cases where two individuals are drawn next to each other as in 13, or where individuals are drawn as a group as in 2, the outlines are thin. Later, Sato almost never came to draw again groups of individuals in a portrait, so it might be that holds some kind of antipathy against such an object.

  In Sato's case, the determination of a line's width seems to end as a matter of taste, and further pursuit in this analysis will bear little fruit. That is, the width of line is the attribute that is most distantly related to Sato.

   But, differently from other representational painters, Sato made of the etude a completed work, and there he partially left lines. In this case, lines are left in order to consciously introduce an accent. If so, since in this part the subjective intention of the painter is strongly reflected, the width of the line becomes meaningful. The line drawn under the leg in "Evidea" is such an example. In this case, Sato uses the width of the line in order to maintain the strong presence of the object.
    In the meanwhile, the line discussed here is defined as a set of points whose color changes discretely. The set of points whose color does not change or changes continuously constitutes a surface, and is clearly distinguished from line. Sato also clearly stated that "line is a thin surface".

Density of the Line

   Unlike width, density of the line is used to show that an objective change is happening with the object. This can be a change in the value depending on the location of the light source, or a change in chroma caused by the physical or psychological distance from the viewer's viewpoint. These quantitative changes are expressed by the difference in the density of line.
   While the width of line is useful in abstract painting and in the expressionist method for it emphasizes the "figure", the density of line is indispensable in representational paintings and in the literalist method because of its depth effect. Since the density of line expresses the quantitative change of the physical attributes of color, it cannot be controlled only by the painter's preference.
   In a representational painting, since line and color do not coexist except in a dessin, even if one puts importance on the density of line, its fate is to disappear at the end in tableau. However, in a literalist method, when putting on the paints, it becomes decisively important to express accurately the difference in value and chroma. Hence, preparing for it by mastering the density of line at the stage of dessin becomes very meaningful.
   We can see it when Sato emphasized the importance of realizing in the plane the modeling of the thing to be drawn at the stage of dessin. If we think this way, it may be closer to Sato's intention to interpret the outlines in the aforementioned "The Sleeping People at the Underground Passage" to be drawn thick, and not wide.
   Since the objects in "The sleeping People at the Underground Passage" all lay in front of Sato's eyes almost within the same distance, it is highly possible that the difference in the density of line shows not the difference in chroma but the difference in the value of the light on the object. If so, it can be said that thick outlines merely express the strong light that shines upon the object.
   Or it can be that, Sato received strong impression from the individual situated where there is a strong shading contrast and especially took him out as a model. But the outlines of the group of individuals are thin. It is not clear whether this shows his low interest or a low value of the object.
   In the meantime, in Sato's etude, the parts where the lines of limb are left are very small and the coloring sufficiently expresses the presence of the object, and hence there is no need to express forcibly the depth here. Therefore, in this case, density of line is seldom used.

C  Curvature of the Line

   Curvature of the line refers to the degree a line curves. If this value is zero the line becomes straight; the bigger its value, the bigger the degree of the curve. The width of a line coexists with color at a complete picture with the feature of abstract painting, on a "projection plan" composition adopting an expressionist method. On the other hand, the density of a line is absorbed by color at a sketch with the feature of representational painting, on a " perspective plan" composition adopting a literalist method.
   The meaning of a line's curvature remains unchanged whether the line is left or eliminated: the fact that the line is curved is what matters and not its condition.
   Its meaning can also be a material that determines a painter's world-view from the outside. Further, as the value of color mentioned earlier, the curvature of line is where the painter's world-view penetrates the most.
   Therefore, a work that most strongly presents the painter's world-view can be made by using only the value and curvature of line. Also, dessins that are composed only by these two can be classified into the category of meaningful pictures.
   Moreover, since a dessin is related directly to the world-view, it is possible to extract the symbol operation that is inherent in the picture. As shown in the work part, this symbol operation draws out the expressive power of painting that rivals literature. Hence, it is possible to make an integrated picture that competes with literature only by using dessin.
   Sato's emphasis on the importance of dessin might be based on his intuitive understanding of this fact. However, since dessin deeply relates to the world-view, the essence of art, it may well become the ultimate individual goal of a painter's career. That is why even the great masters who left their names in the art history continued to draw dessin for all their lives.
   Now, what is the meaning of curvature of line in terms of world-view? This concerns the contrast between nature and civilization. Nature does not create straight lines. Since the molecule that composes the nature has a globular shape, spherical surface is the basic component of the part where nature forms or collapses. This appears as a curve in a picture's surface.
   In contrast, straight lines appear where human's hand has entered. In short, curve shows and symbolizes the nature and straight line the civilization. Nature is an objective existence whereas civilization, which relates to human, has a subjective nature mixed in it. In other words, curvature of line carries both a subjective and an objective meaning.
   The width of a line is mainly subjective whereas the density is very objective. In matters of color, this corresponds to the fact that value is objective, hue is subjective and chroma possesses both of the features.
   Since the meaning of a line's curvature is inherent in the existence of the line per se, the condition of the line does not matter. Hence, its meaning does not change even if it is left in a completed work or is eliminated by color.
   Therefore, whether the method is that of literalism or expressionism, or whether it is a "projection plan" or a "perspective plan", the curvature of line expresses the same meaning. Hence, neither Sato can ignore its meaning.

   As argued in the work part, Sato's picture philosophy was that of non-civilization. Therefore, features of civilization that was expressed by straight lines must be restrained as much as possible.

Wave near Sado Island A
Wave near Sado Island A ; 1983

   First, pictures of sea are works that paint a pure nature and any kind of civilization must be denied; hence straight lines, too, are to be thoroughly excluded. In the previous section on composition, we argued that, elements that propose linear perspective are always excluded in a picture of sea, but Sato made sure to further exclude straight lines that were not needed. This reflects the strong influence, in a deep part, of Sato's non-cultural philosophy, and it goes beyond technical problems of composition setting.
   In a landscape, since human world was directly drawn, wreckage of civilization was necessarily present. In these parts, straight lines were restrictively but clearly used. The lines of the building and of the bank in "Frozen Port", the lines of the freight train and of the woods in "The End of Winter" and the electric light poles in "Thaw" are such examples.

Frozen Port
Frozen Port ; 1979
The End of Winter
The End of Winter ; 1980
Thaw ; 1976

   Moreover, in integrated pictures in which the inner world was drawn, straight lines were boldly and clearly used in parts that represent human being and civilization. The poles in "The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself" and "Wind", the outer frame of the tank in "The Pillage by a Tank", "The War Theory" and "The Formation of the Wilderness" and the lines of the body of the cars in "The Inheritance" are these examples.

The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself
The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself ; 1970
Wind ; 1970
The Pillage by a Tank 1
The Pillage by a Tank 1 ; 1970
The Pillage by a Tank 2
The Pillage by a Tank 2 ; 1970
The War Theory
The War Theory ; 1970
The Formation of the Wilderness
The Formation of the Wilderness ; 1980
The Inheritance
The Inheritance ; 1974

   In the pictures of tree that belong to a self-portrait category, even if they are landscape pictures, the thin trunks and small branches seem to form a number of metaphorical straight lines. (For example, "The Gate toward North","Rupa-dhatsu ` Unworldliness `","Sattva `Populus `"). Although Sato's tree constitutes a nature scenery in its appearance, internally it means himself or the human being as a group, and hence a number of straight lines that is associated to civilization may be drawn.

The Gate toward North
The Gate toward North ; 2001
Rupa-dhatu`Unworldliness` ; 2002
Sattva`Populus` ; 2002

   Except for these pictures of a self-portrait nature, in Sato's work the use of straight lines that imply civilization in general is limited to broken, inconspicuous things.
   Let's see Don Quixote's example. The straight spear that he holds is itself a product of civilization. Also, the white fence that permeates the canvas horizontally in all the pictures of racehorse is also a symbol of civilization, but it stands magnificently as if praising Sato himself. In other words, although he avoids straight lines as a symbol of civilization, this is not the case when the object is related to Sato.

Charge ; 1983
Young Steeds Gallop 2
Youg Steeds Gallop 2 ; 1990

   In his atelier where he paints nude pictures, he is surrounded by products of civilization that is constituted by lines such as floor joints, sofa, posters and carpets. At least one of such things appears in his picture.

White Maja
White Maja ; 1988
Doll and a Woman in the Nude
Doll and a Woman in the Nude ; 1993

Reminiscence ; 2002

   In "Reminiscence", not only floor joints, but other many things such as picture frames, paintbrushes and the like create numerous lines both horizontal and perpendicular. For Sato, his atelier had to be the very center of civilization.
   As far as Sato's arrangement of line curvature is concerned, his non-civilization attitude did not seem to exclude himself from enjoying the benefits of the civilization.

     \ 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 permission.

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