Q&A with Hiroshi Sato

Q&A with Hiroshi Sato

During the month of January, the Cheekwood Museum Team was pleased to have Harpeth Hall senior Addie Smith join us for her Winterim internship. While at Cheekwood, Addie had the opportunity to work and learn alongside the curators, art handlers, as well as the 2020 Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence Hiroshi Sato.

Addie Smith: Is there a significant moment in your life that has helped to shape the certain style and technique you use to paint?

Hiroshi Sato: Sort of. When I was in Georgia, I saw one of Chuck Close paintings. That was the first time I came across the idea of flattening and form at the same time. I combine Chuck Close and Euan Uglow; that’s what started off how I paint now.

Addie Smith: If you could give yourself a piece of advice to your past self at the beginning of your painting career, what would it be?

Hiroshi Sato: I should have been an abstract painter.

Addie Smith: You mentioned that you have lived in Tanzania and Japan as a teenager and young adult. Have any cultural styles from either of these places been incorporated into your work?

Hiroshi Sato: Mainly, the idea of how to construct the picture plane is coming from a lot of Japanese art philosophy. In terms of purely the picture, I would say that’s what it is, connecting with the cultures. But the idea of an objective observer looking into the world, is kind of the angle that I’m coming from and that comes a lot from the Africa side too.

Addie Smith: What are some of your favorite moments to capture in your work?

Hiroshi Sato: It’s about the process. It’s less about a specific moment, especially because my series are more, conceptually, about the human condition.

Addie Smith: Why do you mainly use women as your subjects?

Hiroshi Sato: There’s a common association. As soon as you paint somebody that’s the same gender as the artist, people automatically assume it’s a self-portrait. They project and psycho-analyze; I just didn’t want that to happen. It’s distracting to what’s actually going on.

Addie Smith: What are you most looking forward to regarding your residency at Cheekwood?

Hiroshi Sato: I’m looking forward to really getting further and further into observing the experience of light in this place. I can see how it’s changing and it’s making the experience even better. Also, I’m hoping that people enjoy the show and see that “Joy of Painting”.

Addie Smith: Do you prefer the painting process or the final product? If neither, what makes each part so special to you?

Hiroshi Sato: It’s definitely the painting process. There’s a saying that goes
‘you don’t finish paintings, you just abandon them’. You don’t really finish a painting.

Addie Smith: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Hiroshi Sato: Hopefully, still painting. That’s all I really care about, the painting.

Addie Smith: Do you think your style will change?

Hiroshi Sato: It has to change. I don’t think it’s a good thing if it stays the same.

Join Hiroshi Sato in the museum galleries on Saturday, February 1 at 11 AM for an artist-led tour of the exhibition. This exhibition will be on view January 31 – March 29, 2020.

Learn more

Hiroshi Sato, “Double Portrait.” 2019. Courtesy of the artist. (hero image)

Photo courtesy of Warner Tidwell Photography. (right image)


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