Hawaiian born of Japanese ancestry and raised stateside in Western culture, Frank Satogata’s solo exhibition at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center is evidence of his continuing search for visual language integrating the processes of both Eastern and Western arts. This show brings together designs and paintings using Zen Calligraphy and Abstract Expressionism and several examples of his colorful landscape works.
Strong statements in stark traditional sumi ink invoke his ancestral heritage of single stroke brush calligraphy. Satogata the designer is in evidence here, where large iconic calligraphic renderings dominate the visual field, balanced with the ritual red-inked signature block.
Another group of works visually fuse Japanese character studies with colorful abstract background or nature themed elements. Structured calligraphy characters in design related colors float amid flowing forms and freeform markmaking. Several works appear to combine mediums and resist methods to achieve this upbeat contemporary concoction celebrating spontaneity with cross cultural fusion.
The third category in this exhibition is Satogata’s landscapes. These paintings are a multilayered melange of floating color and subjective mark making with the western brush. He explores nature’s vistas from afar and and intimately examines her flowers with joyful exuberance. Pastoral passages, reflective ponds and big eyed florals are all fodder for his versatile interpretation.
In addition, viewers were treated to a firsthand experience of this cultural fusion during two calligraphic performances during the exhibition run. Satogata demonstrated the art of big brush calligraphy accompanied by a Japanese Taiko group of drummers.
Non-apologetic for his combination of art and design, Satogata invites the viewer to enjoy with him the spontaneous and playful conversation that is a hallmark of his work.
Kennedy Heights Arts Center, Cincinnati Ohio Jan. 17 – Feb. 28, 2015