From the early twentieth century, the United States has been home to artists interested in Nihonga: paintings made in accordance with traditional Japanese conventions, materials, and techniques. Early US practitioners and advocates include Taikan Yokoyama and Tenshin Okakura, who visited Boston from Japan around 1904, and Chiura Obata, who arrived in San Francisco in 1903.
Born in 1933, Shozo Sato belongs to a later generation of sumi-e or ink wash artists. He worked in the Midwest and on the West Coast, arriving at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 1964, where he developed a rich and varied artistic practice. Sato is professor emeritus of the School of Art and Design, the founder of Japan House, and a former artist-in-residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Well known for his contributions to Japanese living arts such as ikebana and tea ceremony, Sato’s ink wash paintings have never previously been the object of scholarly scrutiny. These paintings celebrate Sato’s enduring and thoughtful engagement with vistas of the American Southwest, American West, and childhood memories of Osaka and Hiroshima during World War II.