Ataru Sato


20/May/2017 - 24/Jun/2017

KOSAKU KANECHIKA is pleased to present “Courtship”, Ataru Sato’s solo exhibition, as the gallery’s second exhibition since its opening in March 2017.


Sato is known for creating drawings with an excessive, and seemingly obsessive use of pencil lines. His imagery looks as if it proliferates endlessly, and represents the artist’s earnest attempt to capture the world and himself through the act of drawing. What does it mean to understand others? Can we survive without being connected with others? Driven by these questions, Sato depicts love, sex, life, and hope with overflowing energy. On the other hand, he also expresses a sense of unease and deep darkness, solitude, fragility, and fear. All of these fill his canvas with harmony or with dissonance. This exhibition features his drawings and collages as well as paintings that he has started creating in recent years.


About This Exhibition

This exhibition has a theme of hurting and of being hurt, which also lies at the center of Sato’s practice. He remarks as follows:


When I was small, adults always looked glum when they saw what I was drawing. In other words, my work was just too creepy. A teacher told me that there were some pictures that should not be shown, and things that might hurt someone or make them feel bad should not be expressed, no matter the artist’s will.
I was not expressing anything; I was just letting it out.
After these warnings, I started to let paintings out secretly.
As an adult, I still have the same feelings. I still hesitate while drawing, thinking that I should perhaps not draw. There are many everyday ways in which I might possibly hurt someone, and because those wounds would be invisible, I stop drawing and think: Is this something I can show to people? I begin to feel that even drawing itself is not a good idea.
Everything that is depicted in this exhibition is about myself. I want to see all about myself, both the pure and the dark.
By representing myself in my paintings, I look for someone who can understand me. It’s very hard to live without being connected with someone.
I want to be able to touch someone, by becoming a painting.


We all feel that we want to connect with someone, but we also do not want to be hurt. Sato’s work starts from his personal matters or questions, but is so compelling that it moves the viewer’s emotions as well. On the other hand, his calm overview perspective that he has acquired from the habit of “stop drawing and think” attempts to capture the world in different way through his own work.


“Q1” in the exhibition title has multiple meanings: a homonym for the word “kyu-ai” meaning “courtship” in Japanese, and also “Question 1”. This year Sato finished a work that depicted two insects trying to get close to each other while hesitating, and coincidently he completed it on the same day that the earthquake happened six years ago on March 11th. “Courtship” was the word that came to Sato’s mind inspired by the work, and has become an important keyword for his artistic practice.


There are many things fragile and beautiful which exist because of the fact that It may be impossible for us to become completely connected with someone so that we become one, because we are essentially individuals. Sato continues to pursue this longstanding theme and ideal not only in painting, but also in various other arts such as literature.


General information

Ataru Sato "Courtship"

May 20 - June 24, 2017

11 am - 6 pm / Tue, Wed, Thu and Saturday
11 am - 8 pm / Friday
Closed on Sun, Mon and National Holidays

TERRADA Art Complex 5F
1-33-10 Higashi-Shinagawa,

Free Admission

Ataru Sato

Ataru Sato was born in 1986 in Chiba, Japan. He currently lives and works in Tokyo. He graduated from the Department of Information Design, Kyoto University of Art and Design, in 2009. He held solo exhibitions at Mehr Gallery (New York) in 2007 and Gallery Koyanagi (Tokyo) in 2011 and 2015. His major group exhibitions include the 8th Gwangju Biennale (2010), the Yokohama Triennale 2011: OUR MAGIC HOUR – How Much of the World Can We Know? – (2011), and “Inside” (Palais de Tokyo, 2014). His work has been included in public collections including the Takahashi Collection and that of Louis Vuitton Malletier.


  • Charming, 2017

  • The Sea of Fertility, 2017

  • Courtship, 2017

  • Q1, 2017

  • Me, 2017

  • Anger, 2017

  • Bleu, 2017

  • Partiality, 2017

  • MAN, 2017