What we discussed above was about Sato's painting technique taking human body
as the object. Similar techniques were used for other objects that constituted
a "Primary Figure". In a human body, the Color Surfaces divided by bones and muscles are not very clear. In other words, it is
as if the whole of human body is a series of gentle curved surfaces. However,
in a dashing horse, its muscles are more rigid and the division of Color Surfaces is clearer. (ex The Detail of "Young Steeds Gallop 2") This being a tree, its gnarls
and branches create a more solid and clearer division of Color Surfaces. (ex The Detail of "Virgin Forest") In a sea surface, the wave's bubbles
depicted in details create visible reticulate Color Surfaces. (ex The Detail of "The White Crest")
The Detail of Young Steeds Gallop 2 ; 1990
The Detail of Virgin Forest ; Date unknown
The Detail of The White Crest ; 1999
However, no matter how strong and detailed the division of Color Surface
in an object might be, Sato, while expressing the values of each minute
Color Surfaces, was able to create a fusing Color Surface with a general dominant color, as explained previously. He always had
a microscopic view and a telescopic prospect in both his hands. Sato said
that "I always draw a curved surface with an eye on its relation to
the whole," which vividly shows this aspect.
Although Sato put his heart and soul into literalism, he did not divide the Color Surface to the extreme because he put importance
to the naturalness as a picture that reflects in the eyes. If actually
done otherwise, painting would become a total subspecies of the photograph.
Before that, an evil effect that restricts the emotional factor would appear
as the object would become excessively detailed.
Therefore, there was an innate limit in the division of Color Surface by
Sato. It did not go beyond the bounds of "the division of mountain
ridge" that slices the object along its outlines or "the division
of contour line" that cuts the object into round slices. Both contribute
to the literal expression, but the former is more appropriate for a dynamic depiction
whereas the latter would suit a static depiction. According to Sato, he
used these two according to each situation. As for a more detailed mosaic-shape
division of Color Surface, Sato himself stated that he did not want to
Sato's way of division of Color Surface, that produces such a photographic
Matière of the object, might be appropriate to be named "Beltillism".
Together with the aforementioned "Method of Sealing Window" for the setting, they form the two main picture techniques of Sato.
As argued before, since Sato's "Secondary Figure" is the same as "Primary Figure," the aforesaid object description
applied there. As for the "Third Figure", since it is a part of the setting, figures that were drawn clearly were
slurred and aerial perspective was used. The typical "Third Figure" in Sato's picture is the
birds that fly in the sky. (ex "The White Crest")
The Birds in The White Crest ; 1999
another example, we can cite the rows of houses that can be seen in the distance
in "Race of Arab Horse" and "Galloping". As peculiar cases, we might cite the figure of Sancho who sinks in the
back in "Brocken" and "Charge".
Race of Arab Horse ; 1993
Galloping ; 1992
Brocken ; 1986
Charge ; 1983
In the meanwhile, according to Sato, when he sets a "Third Figure,"
he slurred it from the outset. That is, he used Frottie, and not Sfumato.
No Title 2 ; 1986
In the "Third Figure" of Sato, the technique used is limited,
its variety and number are also scarce, and we might say that this is the
only area in which there is a lack of disposition, without variety or concentrated
Since the "Third Figure" has the function of decorating the setting,
if it becomes colorful and enriched, its weight becomes too large and its
efforts of preventing the penetration of another world by the elimination
of "Window" turns to nothing.
The "Subsidiary figure" is drawn to lead the sight from setting to the object. In etude, this is the accent in the outline. In the picture of nude woman in the
40 of the collection of Sato's pictures（No Title2）, it spreads like a flame from the accent in the outline, even suggesting
a " Wall of Pamirs" in the back. Since it has two aspects of object and setting, it was sometimes
drawn in detail, and sometimes drawn quite roughly. Thus, pictorial Matière and photographic Matière were both used in this area.
shall examine it in some works. The most conspicuous examples are the sand next
to the group of cadavers in "The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself" and "Wind".
The Sand of The Token on Wildernessd inside of Myself ; 1970
The Sand of Wind ; 1970
precision of its depiction reaches extremes. The depiction of accessories
surrounding the model in the picture of nude are also detailed. The pillow and the
mouton in "Maja the White"
are also depicted with an outstanding accuracy. These are the acme of photographic Matière.
The Pillow of Maja the White ; 1999
The Mouton of Maja the White ; 1999
roughly drawn are the surrounding trees in the picture of tree. The grass under
the tree as the main object in "Snow Storm and Time" is drawn with light touches in
the mere use of lines. The chair on which the man sits in "Okano, the Tenpura Cook" may also belong to this category.
Here we have the model of a pictorial Matière.
Snow Storm and Time ; 1994
Okano, the Tenpura Cook ; 1980
The snow and the desert on the earth constitute the foreground that is
linked to the setting. This is a part where "The Method of Dual-natured Foreground", described in the section of composition, works and has a similar characteristic
with a "Subsidiary Figure." But since it is much bigger than
a usual "Subsidiary Figure," its meaning is more inclined to
that of a setting, so it can be said to lie between a "Third Figure"
"Subsidiary Figure." Compared to the sea surface, the division of
Color Surface in this part is much bigger and also the value setting limits to three
levels at most. This part can be rough or precise. The floor area in the above
mentioned "Maja the White"
is included in this category, but compared to the mouton, it is drawn rather
The Floor of Maja the White ; 1999
Sato made a frequent use of the pastel in addition to oil paints when drawing
an object. As well known, with pastel the painter cannot mix colors nor
establish values freely. To fuse Color Surfaces using such a tool becomes
the most difficult task, but Sato dared to challenge this tough problem.
Not only that, he took the trouble of making frequent use of pastel painting
in the etudes where there was scarecely anything other than an object.
Sato's recognition of the pastel was that "Fundamentally, pastel does
not create color." He also said, "Pastel has limitation as material".
The picture of the tree is where Sato often used the pastel. In a tree,
most parts are composed by straight lines, and expressing parts of cylindrical
areas is all what is needed for the use of Color Surfaces. Also, if the
bark is withered, it becomes an accumulation figure of rectangular chips
of wood. Therefore, in the fusion of Color Surfaces, it is not necessary
to change the value and the hue continuously: it is possible to express
the texture of the tree sufficiently by arranging thin lines.
as for the skin of the nude woman, its surface is relatively gently curved and has
a strong plane nature. Hence, even if the Color Surfaces are divided into
fairly large zones, the texture will not be damaged. (ex The Detail of Evidea on Fabric Gold, No Title 19 ) Therefore, even with pastel, a continuous change that can compete with
oil can be sufficiently achieved, simply by faintly mixing such colors
as red and green to bring subtle changes of hue. Surely, these might be
difficult tasks for ordinary painters. But for Sato, who was able to draw
the difference of one grain of sand to another, this was a good practice
The Detail of Evidea on Fabric Gold ; 2001
The Detail of No Title 19 ; 2000
Sato came with his own method of using pastel in the mid-1950s and since
then he had been using this method for his work. This method consisted
in finely whittling a hard pastel to make a precise depiction of an object
as in the aforementioned "Beltillism", and expressed a texture similar to that of oil paints.
According to Sato, even Degas (1834-1917 French painter) repeatedly overlaid the soft pastel using fixative, but his way of using pastel practically did not differ from oil paints. In parts that correspond to the "Soup Glazing", Sato used dark colors of sepia type, and by overlaying pink type colors
on it, the color of the skin was created. (But what differed slightly from
the "Soup Glazing" was that in this case the sepia color was
left in dark parts. Also, since a pastel portrait picture became an etude,
lines were left in the parts of the limb and there sepia was left, too.)
Sepia colors include those with red and blue cast as in oil paints, and
by using them according to each situation, Sato was able to change the
tone of dark colors. Obviously, the determination of color was done in
The same applies to the use of medium. Soft pastel is used for places in the setting where "The Method
of Sealing Window" was adopted, and hard pastel was used for area
of the main object where "Beltillism" was adopted. In a subordinate
object, both were used. The only difference from oil painting would be
that the mixture of colors was done on the paper as support for there is no palette in pastel.
For Sato, the sea was the legitimate wife of art, a pure nature and at
the same time the substitute of God, hence to draw it in a way that disrespected
such an important object as sea surface was not permitted. Then, in order
to fuse minute Color Surfaces created by waves and bubbles of the sea,
it became obligatory to introduce the continuous changes that the oil paints
create. Therefore, pastel was never used for the picture of the sea. This
might show "the limitation as material" of the pastel that Sato
Here, we will end our general description of the picture world of Teruo Sato seen from three aspects of work, person, and technique, which connects the two. From here we wish that each appreciator, with reference to the above description, will come to a direct touch with the works of Sato, and enjoy his world guided by the feelings that each will receive.
― 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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