For Sato, the ocean was a complete independent world. This existence replaces
God who transcends life and it shows the extreme of death.
The waves in the sea bring dynamism when associated with the wind. Because
of the way the waves and the wind spread, they always intersect. And only
one of them emphasizes horizon. Sato discovered two ways to solve this
contradiction. The first one is the wave on a slant. By using this, he
tried to draw out the progress of the waves and the wind together. The
other one is the swell of the waves. When bringing in the swell, time element
enters the painting by the use of a point. If the wind is drawn with a
point, it loses a sense of direction and does not harm horizontality. Moreover,
a strong dynamism will be added by having a sense of time.
The movement and the stillness can be used at their maximum states by this,
and they blend together. Here we can see the powerful style of Sato's
painting to try to integrate heterogeneous element into the act. Then,
in order to carry out this style, two original ways that were mentioned
above were discovered.
"Stormy Day" is the typical piece in which the diagonal waves are used and "A Swell (The Pacific Ocean)" is the typical piece in which the swell in the ocean is used. When a wave and a swell are put together they become more effective. There are many works that have the same compositional form. "Wave near Sado Island A", "Wave near Sado Island B", "Stormy Omen", "Rough Sea near Sado Island", and "The White Crest" are all composed in a way the waves are covered on top of the swell.
The diagonal waves and the swell are drawn separately in some occasion and the splash of water from both is piled up on top of each other in other occasion. "Wave near Sado Island B", and "Rough Sea near Sado Island" are the examples of waves and a swell combined together. However suppose
that a look of the sea became complicated, the basic style
still should be reduced to two simple points: a combination of the stillness
and the movement in terms of time, and the emphasis of the horizontality.
The example of horizontal waves that are combined in a swell
and the diagonal waves is seen in "The Sea of Japan".
A splash that a swell produces has a much more internal energy and its
strength must be shown on the surface. On the other hand, since the splash
that comes from the diagonal waves is an emission of energy, it needs to
show that the energy is weakening.
Another fact is that a water splash is expressed only by a white color.
That is the swell's internal strength must be drawn in white, and the attenuation
of energy has to be drawn by a decline in brightness. For Sato it was not very
hard to divide different degrees of whiteness by the usage of subtle difference
However, Sato showed more marvelous technique than this. He added an accent
along with a splash in the area where a water splash was not seen, which
was the blue area in the sea. By using this technique it supported the
strength of whiteness from the circumference.
Furthermore, in a color blue, since its chromatic change and its hue are
easily used, various rhythms can be created in a painting. By these
techniques, Sato's intention to integrate the movement and stillness was
completely achieved. Since this is basically precisely reproducing the
surface of the sea, it is possible to say that he attained the summit of
technique of the realism.
Sato's work to reproduce all the movements of the surface of the sea made
stillness and movement fuse together. And then it contributed to the far-reaching
philosophy of Sato's painting that viewed the integration of the Earth
space and universe time. This is the completion of the pure realism and it also becomes the greatest practice usage of the symbolism. It is Sato's genius skill that made him possible to accurately pour all
the purpose of Sato's picture philosophy into one work.
Moreover, Sato moved one more step into the unexplored territory where
only the chosen genius could enter. As previously described, it is the
reconsideration of the wind which introduces time into the paintings. By
concentrating on the wind acting only on the surface of the sea, it led
him to the discovery and the syntheses of a swell and the diagonal waves.
In Sato's paintings, clouds are the announcement of the upcoming wind.
And this supports horizontal lines, introduces time, and adds characters
in his paintings. Sato plays a concerto of clouds and waves. This also
expands the sense of global space by introducing the sky into the painting.
Also, the movement and the look of clouds strengthen the introduction of
time as well. Then the integration of time and space increase the
If the universe is put between the clouds, the global space may spread
and universe time can be seen. This becomes the last step of integration
of the time and the space. However this brings a collision with "Ptolemaic rechange". When going against "Ptolemaic rechange", it will collide
right in front of the principle of the pure realism to paint the single
world which he can manage by himself. The most difficult work was the reformation
of Sato's sense of beauty that would be waiting at the pinnacle of his
For Sato, the sea was natural and included stillness and movement. The
land was the stage for human beings. Three axes such as death and life,
the public and the private, wideness and narrowness intersect each other,
and the first three elements and the last three elements are joined together
and create one world.
Only a single opposing element is put in the painting of the sea. In the
paintings of land, there are three large opposing elements and each pole
is combined next and then a small opposition is made. The opposing element
in the painting of land is double.
Then, the objects of a painting are related to death and life, a setting is
related to wideness and narrowness, and both of them are related to the
public and the private. The objects and the settings in Sato's paintings
are distinguished clearly in this way.
The sea has continuity as an object and also a setting at the same
time. However, when something else except for water and the sky enters
here this continuity will be broken. Sato's world is very solid and is
clearly put in order.
In Sato's paintings, when a self-projected object was drawn, it was placed
under the sunlight. In his world of internal ideas, it was covered with dark clouds. In case of the sea which was not self-projected
or from his internal ideas, the sky was shown under the cloudy weather
where clouds were pushed away in the distant view. This may reflect Sato's ranking consciousness that the sea is less valuable than him but still
is the most important element as an object.
Drawing a land on the sea or the product of civilization such as ships
in the sea and putting marine creatures in it are against Sato's painting
style. However, birds are the only exception which is allowed to appear
in the ocean. The birds in the ocean have a different meaning from the
birds on the land.
Birds flying in the ocean imply that the land is nearby. Also, birds are
considered as a part of the sky; therefore, it is possible to say that
they show the direction of the wind as well. Since there are numbers of
works that, in the composition, the birds are flying for left to right
in Sato's paintings, the importance is brought by the wind with the right
direction in the sea.
In the composition of "Wave near Sado Island A", "Wave near Sado Island B", "The Sea of Japan", "The Sea of Japan is Blowy", "Stormy Day", and "The White Crest" where a bird is drawn to overlap with the waves, the strength of the wind is emphasized by this. In other words the bird is put as a predictor of the wind.
At the collapse of the waves or a swell, the splash of rising water
from there is thrusting through the horizon in many cases. It seems that
Sato is making the sense of lively motion of the moving waves compete with
the horizon which is considered the direction of death.
However, some works have a different composition. In "A Swell (The Pacific Ocean)" and "Genkai" (The Sea between Korean Peninsula and the Japan Islands
〜Invitation from Oriental Deism〜), the splash of water is drawn relatively below than the horizon. In "Stormy Omen", it is in touch with the horizon. It seems like Sato was trying to let
out the static horizontality more strongly than a lively motion. These
effects seem to be close to Sato's painting concepts that the sea acts
as a water tank of death. Then, in these works, the expression of overall
waves is not so intense and the deep blue hue is used for the color of
Suppose that the area where the splash of water happens shows the lively
motion of the sea in Sato's painting, the movement is emphasized as the
amount of a white color increases. Also the more we get close to the foreground,
the more a white color is used. When placing stillness like death in a
distant view according to Sato's painting style joins the horizon with death, it is proper that the movement
is arranged in the foreground to keep a balance.
However, there is very little white in the foreground in "Wave near Sado Island A" and "Rough Sea near Sado Island". Also, a white color is seen in "Wave near Sado Island B" and "Stormy Omen", however, the degree of the force is weakening. It seems that Sato's consciousness which tried to seal the part where the sea was in motion
in the middle view was working here.
Paintings use perspective to cope with the lack of spatial dimension. In
order to fill the lack of time, Sato relates time with the object. In Sato's
paintings, the object which is related to time the most is the sea with
"movement". In the ocean, "stillness" and "movement"
use waves as their medium. The tip of the wave is the vertex of "movement",
and it touches "stillness" at the bottom. And at the end, it
blends with the surface of the ocean and will be connected with full silence.
However, since the surface of the sea is a mother of the waves, the energy for the "movement" stays inside. On the other hand, since the splash of water, too, spreads to the whole surface of the ocean, it also relates to "stillness". When painting the surface of the ocean in full detail, it makes it possible to draw the relationship between "stillness" and "movement" as well.
In the painting of land, the leg of the horse becomes a vertex of "the
bursting time". The heavy time emerges in the desert which is considered
as a public space. The time turns into a fossil here. Since there are no
waves here, even if a strong wind blows, only an empty "movement"
will be separated above the sky and exists.
When drawing the figures of individual human being, each element from them
enters little by little. The time element co-exists subtly in this place.
The distance between Sato and time is in proportion to the progress of
the time. The faster the progress is, the stronger the life energy is.
The time progression is expressed by the different ways of crossing limbs.
The more muscle is exposed or limb is bending, the faster it is. There
is no muscle exposure in "Sunlight in Winter", "Yanase, the Bicycle Seller", "Okano, the Tenpura Cook", two pieces of "Falling Ill". Therefore, the time progression is mild. On the other hand, since there
is an exposure of muscle in "Dancer" and "Uemura, the Tofu Maker", time runs faster.
Women in the nude images are the fastest in terms of the time progression among the paintings of individuals because the whole muscle is exposed. Especially, the way he handles Maja is exceptional among these. There are little bends in joints in "The Youth" and "An Etude for The Youth". However, it cannot be seen in any of the paintings of Maja. Maja bends joints in a various form.
As mentioned previously, the bend in the joints is proportional
to the strength of life energy. Therefore, it can be assumed that Sato
strongly felt as the brisk lifeform of the fast time progression within
the object whose skin is widely exposed and the joint is bent sharply.
Also, for these objects, he felt the psychological closeness.
It is said that the typical case of this was Maja; however, it was
of course never limited to this. For example, the same characteristic is
clearly seen in "Reminiscence" which was created after the Maja Series, and was his last work as oil
painting. Therefore, this may be the painting style which is acquired from
the feeling of humanity between the model and him, not from the painting
However, there are no paintings which were created from his own
personal history since he was not fond of bringing literature into his
paintings. Most of his interests were turned to the elements of paintings.
As for this work, the first thing he told us was the fact that he was painting
the model's shoes with the purest white.
Incidentally, the less the bend of the joints are and the exposure
of the muscle is which were shown here, the more the model heads for the
direction of "fossil". In Sato's paintings, old people take a
posture which stretches limbs and wear ponderous clothes. (For example
― Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama ―
― Original translation is rewritten by Tomoko Daijo McLean ―
This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's permission.
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