|Thesis | The World of Teruo Sato |Technique|4-2 Matiere of Sato's picture
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(2) Matière of Sato's picture


   Most of the painters draw figures in a process that goes from "Primary Figure" to "Third Figure"; and based on the painter's creative intention at the time as well as his drawing habit, he will decide when to work on the "Subsidiary Figure". When these basic figures are determined, he draws the dismembered figures that compose them. Then, lastly, colors will be put on the "Window".
   However, there may be painters who begin working from the "Window" or who initiate from the "Third Figure" to finish with the "Primary Figure". To do such a thing, there must be some special intentions.
   The first possibility we can think of is that the "Window" may constitute the core of the setting. In other words, the reason why "Window" is drawn first is that there is an important meaning in the setting in this work. "Window" is an area in the picture without any figure, or it can be said to be an area where nothing is drawn. Here, a simple color is painted and only a single surface is perceived. Such a space implies a pure expanse of space or a suggestion of another world.
   However, as argued repeatedly, for Sato who was an apostle of pure realism, there was no world other than that in the picture and moreover this world should be a single one. Therefore, in his work there was no necessity of having anything that suggested another world.
   In Sato's picture, basically "Window" need not and should not exist. Therefore, in his work, extremely frequent were the cases in which figures were drawn in the area that corresponded to "Window." These are the heavy clouds that fill in the sky and the roughly drawn lines of paintbrush. In pictures in the atelier, by depicting floor, wall, furniture and other things neatly to all the corners, "Window" was elaborately filled up with figures. As if to make doubly sure, there is not even one picture where the model is near the actual window in his house.

The Formation of the Wilderness
The Formation of the Wilderness ; 1980
Man Who Had Bombarded against the Sky
 Man Who Had Bomberded against the Sky
; Date unknown

   Hence, the hole in the sky resembling a "Window" in "The Formation of the Wilderness", which is explained in the person part, and in "Man Who Had Bombarded against the Sky" are very exceptional cases. These do not correspond exactly to the above-mentioned "Window" since they are drawn as figures, but in the respect that they constitute the core of the setting, they are semantically the same.
   If there was a need to draw a "Window" in a picture, he would rather leave the canvas without doing anything. This is none other than the incomplete etude. In a complete etude, nothing except object and accent is drawn and the rest of the canvas is left as it is. Since Sato's complete etude is a picture of nude woman, it is easily imaginable that it is an indoor painting. Therefore, even if the surrounding of the model is painted with a single color, it does not constitute a "Window" that suggests another world.
   However, even here Sato tried to completely do away with the "Window." Then, he left the picture in a state that looks unfinished. This demonstrates that he considered drawing nothing to be more valuable than drawing a "Window." The existence of "Window" was, to such a point, an object of hatred for the painter Sato.
   In the pictures of the sea, Sato started drawing from the sky, which was a "Window." His primarily reasoning behind it was that the state of the sky affected the condition of the sea surface, but what was important to him was to first fill in the "Window." Similarly, in pictures of the tree, he also drew the sky first. But in a portrait he began with the object. In this case, it is because the "Window" that was connected to a different world was excluded from the beginning. In short, we can see from these facts that, Sato, unconsciously but thoroughly, is filling in and closing the "Window."
   To make a Color Surface into a "Window" shows the emphasis on the unseen world that exists outside the picture and that is suggested by it. This can be a transcendental world or a world in the unconsciousness, unreachable by the reason of human being.
   A painter whose vision reaches such a world would consider the visible world to be no more than a phenomenon, and think of a fundamental real existence behind it. If he wishes to express it in the picture, he may first do the priming in order to make the color of the Color Surface of the "Window" penetrate over the whole picture.
   However, in Sato's case, the only thing he did was to paint a solution of woodcraft bond in water, so that the oil of the paint did not seep into the reverse side if the texture of the canvas was fine. Here, there was no consideration for the content of the picture. As for the priming, he indifferently discarded it saying that "it is no more than an old method used in the West in the Middle Ages." However, the true reason why Sato did not consider doing the priming at all was in the necessity to completely do away with the "Window" in the drawing surface.
    For Sato, the transcendental world was not supposed to exist and the unconscious world was meaningless. We call such a technique of Sato in drawing the setting "The Method of Sealing Window".
   The only cases in which a "Window" is open are the pictures of tree, which are works of his self-projection. In all these pictures, a clear blue sky is drawn. Even if some "Patterns" with scattered clouds can be seen, the area of the blue sky is also quite large, and it is possible to consider the existence of a single Color Surface as "Window."
   This uncommon act of drawing a "Window" here certainly does not mean that Sato admitted the transcendental world. The point is the tree, as his self-portrait, that stands to block the sky. Sato, by himself turning his back upon the sky, as "Window," in these pictures, was declaring his absolute disapproval of this transcendental existence. That is, he was sealing the "Window" with his own body.
   In simple words, this may be his declaration of rebellion against God. To say more, this picture is also a pronouncement that only he can possess the depth and the greatness of the transcendental world. This is equivalent to a declaration of himself as God. In the explanation of hue, we argued that the bright blue expresses the nobility of Sato himself, and this proposition comes to relate with it.
   (However, in some pictures of the tree such as "Sattva `Populus`" and "Samsara `Woods of Walpurgis`", where the degree of Sato's self-projection decreases, clouds appear in the whole sky and the "Window" is shut.) Such an attitude is entirely consistent with the ultimate request of pure realism that says that the painter is the only God inside a picture.

Sattva `Populus`
Sattva `Populus` ; 2002
Samsara `Woods of Walpulgis`
Samsara `Woods of Walpurgis` ; 2002

   As mentioned above, the area that should be occupied by "Window" becomes the core of the setting. Since this part suggests another world different from the one drawn in the picture, Sato filled it in a variety of ways. Thus the "Window" part is where Sato created the most varied Matières.
   There is no unified law that determines this variety. Provided that they are basic instruments of the picture or picture techniques of general use, they are freely combined and used. Moreover, the Matière of the "Window" is achieved in an extremely pictorial way. The above-mentioned method of leaving the canvas is one of its concrete instances.

No Title 21
No Title 21 ; 1997

   An interesting experiment is the pastel painting of nude shown in the right (No Title 21), where he tore the paper up for the reason that the body of the model was lacking a sense of tension. Such an intuitive novel idea could also be adopted if it was for the purpose of filling the "Window."
   However, using techniques that depart too much from the orthodox way was against Sato's sense as a conservative artist. For instance, the use of techniques such as collage did not go beyond experiments in his young times.
   If we see "Windy Day" for example, here the ground that surrounds the group of cadavers in the center becomes the "Window," and so a number of techniques are mobilized to fill this up. For example, in the central upper part, yellow color which is Sato's natural basic hue is roughly put in an extremely heavy coating. In the upper left and lower part, the touch is so violent that one can even see the brushstroke.
   Yet, contrary to it, the gravel surrounding the group of cadavers is depicted with an incredible precision. (This gravel part has also the nature of "Subsidiary Figure" that makes the cadavers as the object stand out.) Then, in the lower right area, heavy coating gives way to a light coating of black color. The light black coating becomes more audacious in "On Windy Day" and "Drought in Summer", which constitute its sister pieces. Here, the touch of the brush is more clearly left and even the method of canvas exposure is used together. (In addition to it, a part of the leg of the object is left in lines like an etude, and beside it some accentual lines are added, too.)

Windy Day
Windy Day ; 1969
Drought in Summer
Drought in Summer ; 1967
On Windy Day
On Windy Day ; 1967

   Also, in "Windy Day", a rough yellow "accumulating Color Surface" is added on the black ground, in the lower right part. This resembles "Glacis (the glaze)", but it is uncommon for Sato to be using a technique of this type. (About "Glacis" Sato said that what it aimed to express could be achieved without using it, being very indifferent to it.) Even in such a work that looks like an exposition of techniques, in their basis everything converged to a single purpose of filling the "Window."

The Pillage by a Tank 2
The Pillage by a Tank 2 ; 1970

   After "The Yellow Series", this experiment of condensing such many techniques in one work could not be seen anymore. But, a part of it was used in a more sophisticated form. For example, in "The Pillage by a Tank 2", the cloud drawn in the sky as the setting, which forms a "Window," is painted heavily in its whole and increases the number of its hues toward the left, with also a greater emphasis on the touch. While carrying out such a pure technical operation, it does not undermine the realness of the cloudy weather.

   The technique of drawing a cloudy weather using heavy coating and touch was further refined in "Wave near Sado Island A", "Wave near Sado Island B", "Rough Sea near Sado Island" and "Stormy Day". While pretending to be allocating the paints roughly to spread them with the brush, they are drawn in such a way that anyone can clearly understand that the weather is cloudy. Such a performance must be something that only special geniuses can accomplish.

Wave near Sado Island
Wave near Sado Island A ; 1983
Wave near Sado Island B
Wave near Sado Island B ; 1987
Rough Sea near Sado Island
Rough Sea near Sado Island ; 1984
Stormy Day
Stormy Day ; 1991

   Further, this technique could be also extended to skies of different weather. In "A Swell (the Pacific Ocean)", "View" and "Thaw", an intermediate weather between sunshine and cloudiness is expressed by applying weak touches on a rather lightly coated layer.

Swell (the Pacific Ocean)
A Swell (the Pacific Ocean) ; 1984
View ; 1980
Thaw ; 1976

   In the sky area of a landscape, cloud was introduced as a divided Color Surface. As shown in the person part, never celestial bodies that imply universe were drawn as "Pattern" here. Then, when clouds are drawn, Sato's sky increases its realness. "Brocken" and "Sea of Japan is Blowy" may be its good examples. Here, the cloud is depicted clearly in everyone's eyes and a literal inclination can be strongly felt.

Brocken ; 1986
Sea of Japan is Blowy
Sea of Japan is Blowy ; 1984

   Then in "The Inheritance", "The Formation of the Wilderness" and "The Neo-Pyramid Times", the clouds are drawn precisely like the sea surface, showing the acme of literalism. Here, with clouds being drawn minutely in the sky part as "Window", it is possible to see the effect of "Figurization".

The Inheritance
The Inheritance ; 1974
The Formation of the Wilderness
The Formation of the Wilderness ; 1980
The Neo-Pyramid Times
The Neo-Pyramid Times ; 1989

   Thus, Sato's sky seems to be disorganized from the methodological point of view, packed with all kind of techniques that ranges from heavy to light coating, strong to weak touches, literalist to expressionist methods, that are used to carry out "The Method of Sealing Window". However, Sato was absolutely coherent and focused in one point: to fill the "Window" with all the painting techniques. Here, a very abstract painting style is established.

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

   All the techniques that belong to "The Method of Sealing Window" are derived from "The Yellow Series". In this meaning, this peace might constitute a knot in Sato's painting technique. Just as Sato's own world was established in "The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself", if seen from the technical point of view, this series is situated in a very important position. (Also, as previously argued, it was in this series that Sato decided to chose yellow as his basic color of nature, and it constitutes an important knot also in matters of hue establishment.)

                                             \ 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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