"KEN SATO" - English summary

The exhibition cataloque at the Aguéli Museum in Sala, 1998
 
Ivan Aguéli is an artist who has been of great importance to me both
through his work and life. Since I have spent thirty years of my life as
an artist in his "landscape" it is a matter of course for me to exhibit
my works at the Aguéli Museum in Sala. / Ken Sato


" The idea of recurrent creation" was key term for the Swedish painter
Ivan Aguéli (1869-1917), a theme that is widely and profoundly developed
by his sufi Master Ibn 'Ababi(1165-1240). This term implies a particular
sensitiveness concerning the prerequisites and process of the creative act.
The act of painting in itself is turned into a meditation, a spiritual exercise.
"The shadow of the ego" is trained not to stand in the way and hide the free
sight. For Ivan Aguéli it was most important to point out the principles
behind the work of the Creator, not to bring himself out as a creative artist.
A strong sense of the condensation of the moment is also essential. Eternity
within the present. These conception are also essential for Ken Sato. The
sudden appearance of insight, like a "flash of the Grace" in the works of
Aguéli, is central in Zen Buddhism. During the fifties and sixties the painters
of the Paris and New York schools were open-minded towards the
painterly tradition, and some of them expressed an articulate sense of
the directness of calligraphy - a trace of personality, but also of change.

Since childhood Ken Sato has practised calligraphy, which in both Japan
and China is considered the supreme form of art. The careful execution of
the tasks prescribed by the master creates a particular sensivity to shade of
meaning, to the interplay between the monements of the hand, the material
and the presence of mind. The slightest change of attention manifests itself.
The predominantly authoritarian attitude of the Japanese tradition of
calligraphy, however, stood in the way for Ken Sato's yearning for freedom
and further artistic development. By the mid-sixties he left Japan for the
USA where he remaind for one year. In 1966 he moved on to Sweden
where he settled, married and established a family. Systematically and
accurately he acquainted himself thoroughly with the European history
of art by painting - not by copying masterpieces but by creating his own
variations in the spirit conveyed to him by his studies. He started painting
in oil : landscape, studies of plants, portraits and still lifes, impressionist
and symbolist, surrealist, informal. During the single-tracked seventies
in Sweden, when quite a few artists laid down their paint-brushes, he
painted still lifes. He kept his artistic activity apart from his political
engagements and expressed his social commitment in active political work.
He searched for a more open and dynamic attitude in his art, and always
allowed plenty of time for maturing and the integration of the new experiences.
When having worked in Sweden for seventeen years he returned to Japan
where he painted townscapes from Kyoto inspired by the visual poetry
of Klee.

When I make bright paintings, they lead to darkness. When I have
made rigid paintings for a while, I want to break up the form. I do
not want to get stuck. / Ken Sato


He has a keen feeling for the dynamics of contrasts. Like Aguéli he wanted
to return to his early experiences of landscape and even to the tradition that
had marked him as a child and young man. It is not unusual that an emigrant
experiences his cultural and linguistic individuality more clearly in the new
country. It is not only the departure but also the courage to return with all the
emotions involved. To recognise on a deeper level what has already been
realized. The latter part of eighties implied him scrutinizing his own mind and
coming to terms with his strongest affinities and ideals.

From Japan he went to Paris in1984. His paintings from that period reminds
me a little of the informal painter Tal-Coal. In the early eighties he had also
used sand for the first time in his paintings on paper. In 1983 he held a small
exhibition with exclusively sand-painting in Stockholm. He soon left this
material and did not use it again until ten years later, then with greater
variation and precision. Inbetween he worked hard with calligraphic painting
in Indian ink on paper. This work also produced piles of surplus material,
since he rejected most of what he had accomplished. Later he used it as raw
material for hand-made paper. Some of the paper was later used in
installations.

His sand paintings during the nineties are marked by his effort to construct
an exciting space by simple means. The sand palette has been modulated.
He is using his different shades of sand to create an impression of light and
shadow to the immediate calligraphic gestures. They are tangible, and at the
same time the swift movement is ephemeral and extremely difficult to catch
due to the material he uses. Therein lies part of the challenge. He considers
it most important that his paintings radiate life at the same time as they instil
serenity.

Within the concept of life there is room for disorder within order, instability
within balance. A painter works with colour contrasts, in the tension between
stillness and movement as well as in the balancing of empty space and form,
Between the polarity of reality and illusion. The sense of the paradoxical,
the disintegration of absolute contradictions, resulting from of a gradual
movement towards the distinctive nature of visual expression, characterizes
Ken Sato's artistic work. With his deep confidence in visual poetry and in
the principle of change, so difficult to capture, combined with the inmost
dynamics of the creative act, he has acquired his own unintentional attitude.
In this way he deepens his affinity with his two cultural heritages.

 

Stockholm, January 1998 / Viveca Wessel