By filling up the "Window" using the picture medium, it is assured that the world inside the canvas belonged only to Sato,
whereas for the object, the very opposite happened. Here, a thorough literalism is accomplished. In other words, Sato tried to approximate as far as possible
to the actual existence.
This is a liberal attitude that is contrary to the exclusive attitude of
closing the "Window." With an opposite type of mentality, obviously
the method used becomes completely different, too. Sato's technique devoted
to the object becomes extremely delicate and analytical.
used for the setting, such as rough drawing, emphasis on touch, and impressionist depiction of air, disappear completely. Instead, techniques such as miniaturist kind of brushing, restriction of touch and pursue for texture, were used.
Basically, accumulation of Color Surface did not occur. Therefore "Glacis" was even less used in object. Also, since paint mixture was all calculated,
it was almost always done on the palette. According to Sato, a paint mixture
on the canvas was only performed "for convenience purposes, with brush
techniques", when painting small Color Surfaces.
The techniques used for the setting are varied, and at first sight, no
consistent rules can be perceived. However, the techniques poured into
the object depiction are unified, and a strict consistent style can be
clearly seen at a glance. Here, the characteristic of Sato who tried to
integrate contradictory and heterogeneous elements came out clearly.
Sato's liberal attitude limited/concentrated to the expression of the object.
Therefore, even if depictions were approximated to the reality, since his
view limited to the object's inner part, the other world that he refused
was never brought in by it. Also by this task, the object increasingly
gained modeling and sense of weight: here, Sato's scheme of composition
establishment of concentrating the distance effect of "perspective plan" on the object was definitely realized.
Stroll ; 2001
Sato's object is often an individual object, so as to meet the request
of pure realism that only a single world be revealed. Therefore, this individual object becomes the "Primary Figure" which expresses the theme of the picture.
a "Primary Figure" is set, and if there is a need for a "Secondary
Figure" to assist it, often an object similar to the "Primary
Figure" is placed. If this is people, then a person who has a similar appearance, engages in the same profession and belongs to the same class is placed as the "Secondary Figure". ("Stroll" on the right is a good example).
The reason why Sato chose tree as a symbol of person is that it can unify the variety of human image into one external
appearance of a plant. In this way, the world does not run the risk of
splitting even if various persons are drawn.
"The Token on Wilderness inside
of Myself" and in integrated pictures that are directly derived from it, the group of cadavers as well as the
mountain of scraped cars and of skeletons form "Synthetic Figures"constituted by a number of similar objects. These compose the "Primary
The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself ; 1970
Wind ; 1970
The Inheritance ; 1974
The Neo-Pyramid Times ; 1989
Neuespektive ; 2001
Thus, in Sato's picture, "Primary Figure" and "Secondary
Figure" are drawn with the same mentality and with the same technique.
To create a difference here is very exceptional. The previously argued
"Neuespektive" might represent one of these
rare cases. In this picture, the girl in the front back as "Primary
Figure" and the man on the left foreground as "Secondary Figure"
differ in the way chroma is established and in the way their outlines are drawn.
Such an uncommon thing happened because in this picture Sato had a special
intention of experimenting with his original perspective.
The Detail of Maja the White ; 1999
Therefore, all of Sato's methods of drawing the object are present in "Primary
Figure." This method refers first to the dismemberment of figure. This dismemberment is done in a literalist way and here his subject is
excluded. In a human body, organs and joints constituted by muscles and
bones become the unit of dismemberment. (ex. The Detail of "Maja the White") Then, Color Surface is
established according to this unit.
unit is basically constituted of three levels: highlight, shadow and half tone.
The most detailed division would count five levels at most, with the half tone area
broken down into light, shadow and middle area. While further subdivision is
theoretically possible, it would even become unnatural for the reproduction of an
object that is perceived by our sense.
This difference in value is only an internal variation inside the same Color Surface. There, a continuous change of values is established and fusing Color Surface is made. As for the hue, since in pictures of nude the object has similar
colors in its whole, most part of the object is covered by the dominant
color. Therefore, seen from the perspective of hue, the Color Surface spreads
to the whole object.
This means that, from the point of view of hue, almost the whole object becomes close to a union of Color Surfaces. Put differently, it becomes like a synthetic figure. Then, here we find
the coexistence of two conflicting figures: the dismembered figure split
by values created by the different lights that shine on muscles and bones,
and the synthetic figure created by hue.
The technique that Sato used to solve this contradiction was the method
of so-called "Soup Glazing." (This name is used traditionally
in Japan. In terms of its content it can be defined as a special kind of
It is a general technique for preliminary drawing that creates a dominant color
that serves as the base of a particular object, by dissolving paint into volatile
oils such as Petroleum Thinner.
First Sato calculated in his mind the general dominant color of the object
that would become the "Primary Figure." Then apart from it, he
drew beforehand with lines the Color Surfaces that were visible dismembered
figures created by muscles and bones. Next, he arranged colors that served
as references for the dominant color on the whole area of the object by
the "Soup Glazing."
Then, based on the dominant color references used in "Soup Glazing,"
he decided the hue of the actual painting. Reference and actual colors
are basically similar, but in the skin of human body there is a slight
difference, because he used Raw Sienna in the stage of "Soup Glazing"
not to make it too pale, and in the actual painting he returned to the
original color using Yellow Ochre.
Then, Sato mixed gray scale to the actual paint colors in each dismembered
figure, adjusting their values. (As mentioned previously, to make a gray
scale Sato did not use black. He mixed Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Deep
to create a subtle difference in the darkness.) Depending on the color
of the skin, he added another color to the actual paint colors creating
a continuous change of hue.
Since these were pure technical colors to add changes, Sato's world-view
did not enter and there was no special limitation or bias on the hues added
here. The previously mentioned red (Cadmium Red Pale, Crimson Lake) and
blue colors (Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Deep, Indigo) which are allocated
to the civilization were used, too. Green (Cadmium Green Pale, Viridian)
which is the dominant color of the sea was certainly applied, too.
The color in "Soup Glazing" served as a reference for the dominant color of the whole object, fused
each Color Surface that composed a dismembered figure, and became the guide
that gave uniformity to the whole object. Then, based on this, the hues
and the values of the actual painting colors underwent continuous changes,
making fusing Color Surfaces and expressing the curvatures of the object's
surface. By this, the modeling of the object could be expressed accurately.
On the other hand, Color Surfaces were segmented by the value in every
dismembered figure, and thus the variety of the details of the object was
expressed. This variety, in turn, creates the texture of the object. (Sato
did not know the concept of Color Surface, but he repeatedly emphasized
that on a dessin "it is important to grasp the object by the surfaces and not by the
lines." He intuitively realized the significance of a Color Surface.
Also, when putting color on the object, he used the word "to see well
part by parts". This word "parts" caught almost the same
meaning as Color Surface.)
Thus, the value changed on the divided Color Surface created by the physical attribute of the object, and it reversely enabled
the pictorial expression of the physical nature of the object. But, in
an object, since this value difference often constituted a continuous change,
the condition was made for the establishment of a fusing Color Surface.
Then, since the dominant similar colors of the object brought about a continuous
change in hue, a fusing Color Surface was realized.
As a result, the whole object became a fusing Color Surface with a series
of curved surfaces. In this situation, the divided Color Surface created
by the physical attribute was connected and consequently the value difference
that was created in each Color Surface went through "Figurization". (From an opposite perspective, the fusing Color Surface went through
"Groundization".) Then, through this "Figurization," the areas of highlight
and shadow stood out, further perfecting the expression of texture in the
Therefore, in Sato's case, there was no need to add such parts last as
highlight and shadow, as was usually done in the division of Color Surface.
(But he sometimes made use of this usual way, too.) In fact, in case of
drawing woman in the nude image in tableau, Sato began to paint a part of breast in the brightest condition. In the
process of drawing the dismembered figures of the object one by one according
to a determined procedure, uniformity and variety of the object were automatically
realized. (Since the main object that becomes the "Primary Figure"
has an approximately equal distance from the viewer and since it also constitutes
the theme, chroma becomes uniform so that the attention is turned to its
whole. Hence, there is no specific need to consider the continuous change
of chroma.) Also, Sato's picture was immune to the traditional method transmitted
from generation to generation in Western countries that says that "bright
part should be painted heavily and dark part lightly."
Metaphorically speaking, the dominant color determined in "Soup Glazing"
was equivalent to a tree trunk, which changed its hue subtly from area
to area. Then from there it was ramified by the change of value. By drawing
systematically this entire color tree, it was possible to reproduce literally
In Sato's case, the color of the actual painting was decided in a one-time
procedure, and he did not make adjustments by overlaying the paints again
and again. These colors were all calculated in his mind and were created
only on the palette. When actually putting the calculated color on the
canvas, it rarely happened that it turned out to be different from the
initially intended color. Here we can see the characteristic of Sato's
picture technique that is inconceivable to ordinary painters.
when drawing a human body by tableau, in order to "make an accurate expression," to "confine
the integrated time," and to "make the image eternal as Mona-Lisa,"
(borrowing the words of Sato) a final coating was performed after the actual
painting. Sato called the tableau of human body picture "a long novel" and the etude "an essay," but in any case, to perform an actual painting twice
was something special. However even in such cases, there did not have to
be too many parts in which Color Surfaces accumulate. It should be limited
to reinforcing the first painting.
We can see a big difference from Sato if we see that many painters can
achieve their desired colors only after overlaying paints as much as four
times. But such a thing was a trivial matter for Sato in the light of his
genius. (In case of a sea picture, Sato said that the actual painting concluded
in one time, because it was drawn based on photograph, and he had a material
that did not move.)
All colors of the "Soup Glazing" were pure preparations for the
actual painting, where they vanished. Put differently, they were like lines
that disappeared in a complete work. On the other hand, as previously mentioned,
the priming that made the setting penetrate was something that Sato firmly
refused. However, even he considered the importance of the "Soup Glazing"
as a preliminary coloring that generated the unity of an object. But even
then, there is no special meaning in it since it is no more than a pure
reference after all.
Thus, either for the setting or for the object, preliminary painting of
any kind was ultimately unnecessary for Sato; in practice, everything was
decided by a one-time act of actual painting.
It meant that for Sato, as previously argued, in drawing an object, accumulation
of Color Surface was non-existent even counting the preliminary drawing.
Therefore, obviously, such thing as transparency of the paints was neither
important attribute for Sato. Also, since all the colors were calculated
beforehand, he never mixed colors on the canvas, which would create a contingent
element. Sato said that even if it was in the setting, when two colors
widely met each other on the drawing surface, he made their middle color
on the palette. Even in "The Method of Sealing Window", which was originally a free method, colors were always steadily calculated.
He neither used flat brushes. It was until his 20 years old that he was
using it. After that, he had been using only round brushes made of pig
hair of sizes 0 to 20. This shows his concentration on the establishment
of detailed Color Surfaces. (But, in the "Soup Glazing," he used
sable brushes of sizes 0 to 6.)
In short, either with the division or the combination of Color Surfaces,
Sato did everything as an establishment of new Color Surfaces. (The division
of Color Surface by Sato became the one on appearance that we showed previously.)
Therefore, in principle, the Matière in the object becomes homogeneous with only a one-time drawing. In other
words, it is a constructive improvisation. Here, too, we can have a glimpse
of the tremendous genius of Sato in integrating heterogeneous elements.
might be called a photographic Matière. As described in the work part, the
rival of a representational painting is the photograph. That is why Sato
introduced the photographic Matière into the depiction of the object. Also, when he drew picture of the tree
or the sea, he made a sketch based on the scenery taken in the photograph
and began to paint on it.
this photographic Matière, while being ideal for a literal picture, also draws into a battle with photograph. Here, Sato brought
up the pictorial Matière produced by the previously-mentioned "Method of Sealing Window"
in the setting. By combining it with the photographic Matière that is used for the object, he expressed the originality of his picture
as a whole. By this, it became also possible to draw the "emotion
of the soul" that Sato talked about. The depiction of the object in
Sato's picture is an example for representational painters, and the depiction of the setting is his self-assertion as a painter.
Sato himself was not clearly conscious of this distinction. He said, "What
exists is only the brush feeling that realizes the motion of my spirit."
Similar to the case of establishment of composition, the fact that he could
realize his constitutive intention even unconsciously, as shown above,
is in itself a sufficient proof of his genius.
― 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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