Tadashi Sato Biography


Tadashi Sato (b. 1923) is one of Hawai‘i’s most respected artists. In a career now spanning over 50 years, Sato has become known for his spare, subtle abstract compositions. He is also recognized for works with imagery drawn from the natural world around him, especially the tide pools and submerged rocks of the coastlines where he fishes near his home in Lahaina on the island of Maui. Always, Sato paints with signature delicate, crosshatched brushstrokes.

The exhibition at TCM at First Hawaiian Center examines four themes that Sato has explored in series throughout his career: landscapes/seascapes of Nakalele, Sato’s favorite shoreline fishing spot on Maui; lava fields interpreted in a faceted, "cubist" style that evokes the broken, rough terrain of lava flows; "airscapes," in which Sato depicts the light and shadow play of clouds moving across the landscape; and sea forms, a recent series inspired by the shape of the sea urchin. Also on view is a large painting shown together with its preliminary ink drawing and an oil study on canvasboard, illustrating how Sato develops many of his works from initial idea to finished canvas.

The exhibition at TCM’s primary venue in Makiki Heights provides a broader, chronological overview of Sato’s work and development, beginning with examples of his early Subway Series of the late 1940s. The exhibition includes several of Sato’s early abstract compositions of the 1950s, when he lived and worked in New York and briefly visited Japan. The retrospective then focuses on his achievements as a mature artist in Hawai‘i. This period dates from his return to Maui in1960, when he turned to subject matter inspired by nature and the landscape/seascape. More recent works illustrate Sato’s revisitation of his earlier abstract compositions. Selections from this exhibition will travel to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in the fall of 2002, where they will be supplemented by works from Maui collections.