Identifying new artists in Japan is not easy. With around 200 art galleries in Ginza alone, talent-hunters require both a connoisseur’s eye and an Olympic walker’s legs. Hence the popularity of festival exhibitions such as Geisai, Design Festa and Spiral Independent Creators Festival (SICF), where you can see many artists in one place, and, depending on the event, jump straight to the ones independent experts have judged the best.
At the end of the month, Spiral (www.spiral.co.jp) in Aoyama will hold a solo show for Naritaka Sato, who was awarded the Grand Prix from among 100 entrants at the SICF in May this year. One of the SICF judges, Mori Art Museum director Fumio Nanjo, lauds Sato’s sets of photorealistic portraits — in pencil, charcoal and acrylic — saying the twin images are like a “reflection in a mirror that resembles reality, but is somehow different.” It’s the kind of comment that would please the artist. “I wanted to create doubt in the minds of the viewers,” Sato says on the SICF Web site. He makes multiple portraits of the same subjects, apparently adding slight distortions along the way. An eye will look larger in one, a lip more defined in another. But are they really? Sato shows that our eyes feel difference long before they pinpoint it.