Masaaki Sato 30 years in New York 1970-2000
Eve is the cover girl on Penthouse and Adam, first in a long line of chauvinists, hits the front cover of Playboy, among rows of magazines as well as packets of Marlboroughs, Twix and Pepsi tins in a painting of a newsstand by Masaaki Sato. Adam and Eve were copied from paintings by Albrecht Durer and are among many famous art historical images depicted as magazine covers in Sato's paintings. Magazines with cover titles such as "Making Tax Reform Work for You" sit next to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's "Joseph receiving the Pharoahs Ring" on Sato's Newsstand. A retrospective of Masaaki Sato's work, created in New York where he has lived for the last 30 years, is on display at the Fuji Television Gallery in Yurakucho.

Departing Japan in the late 60s Sato headed for Europe and the US looking to make a mark on the art world with his Pop Art style. His early works, made in New York in the early 70s, combined the ideas of Op Art, accurate lines that appear to move optically, with Pop Art's every day imagery. A Volkswagen Beetle is clinically perforated all over with pierced, conical holes. These early graphic works look strangely dated now as computers have made this kind of optical trickery commonplace. Sato produced many of these silk screen prints in his studio, laboriously cutting delicate stencils for each colored layer. They are a triumph of registration, repetition and accuracy---the very thing that today's graphic design computers do in seconds.

Sato uses aspects of the city of New York as the subject in much of his art. Subway stations, taxis, even the Big Apple motif are subjects for his sculptures, paintings and prints. More recently his work has focused on the city's newsstands. Sato was attracted by both the riot of color and imagery as well as by the collision of topics and ideas---where world events sit next to the mass media's everyday trivia.

Newsstand No. 66-AB (The Bible in Art) incorporates these strange juxtapositions. Famous historical works of art dealing with biblical themes appear on the covers of magazines on the racks of the newsstand. In this work, Jesus, as painted by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647) in his depiction of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, looks out from the cover of Worker magazine. Reminiscent of his roots in Pop art, Sato's colors are simple reds, yellows and blues like those of the mass printing industry. His painting style when copying the masters is almost cartoonish.


Looking at Sato's art is a little like a game of picking the masterpieces among the trivia and making associations of words, meanings and intriguing juxtapositions with the titles. A fun yet thoughtful retrospective exhibition of a successful Japanese artist perhaps better known outside of Japan.


Fuji Television Gallery New Yurakucho Bldg. 1F 1-12-1 Yurakucho Chiyoda Tel. 03.5220.3133 through October 7