Landscapes that Breathe
Some days just go on and on as if nothing was going to change. People live through them; some go mad in them. You feel fed up with the monotonous repetition, but, on the other hand, you can feel surprised at this repetition’s unexpectedness. Tokuro Sakamoto is a painter who pays close attention to the unexpected within the often-unnoticed repetitions of daily life.
Sakamoto paints urban and rural landscapes, or rather, parts of them. He shows forms like layered trees, or clumps of bushes, with the beauty of their motions as they sway in the wind. Beach and waves sparkle with reflections of light fallen from above. Tiled walls of a building. Elegant repetitions of power cables dividing the sky. The pity of a flower growing up through a crack in concrete. Sakamoto focuses on all things evenly, framing them. His viewpoint is deliberately negligent, and the details of his pictures enter our sight so clearly that we lose our sense of spatial relationships. His work is vivid enough to appear as if made in digital high-vision.
And yet there are no humans. People are deleted from these landscapes. We sense a time created and consumed by humans, but the people themselves are gone. This kind of unpeopled emotional view can offer a daily-life peace. Neutral picture-planes without evident brushstrokes also refuse all hint of the painter’s presence. The only human there is the one looking at the dissected landscape.
Seeing is of course not the same thing as recognising. By seeing we nevertheless feel the texture of objects’ surfaces, like skin. We feel the rhythm of things, like the regular placing of buildings, akin to heartbeats. I mean, Sakamoto presents human-free autonomous ‘landscapes that breathe’. His colours are minimal, but we still feel a surplus in them. His drawn landscapes are not categorised only in terms of orderly time and space, but are a temporal space for the depicted objects to secretly breathe alone. We do not so much look at these works, as find ourselves, quite naturally, coming to ‘breathe inside the landscape’. That is what Sakamoto’s paintings make us feel.
Visitors will experience a new kind of joy. That joy touches on the ‘exterior’ of our human selves. It includes a cool sense of repose, as well as nostalgia for strangers. After staring at these partially-rendered landscapes, we will feel a gentle, yet
Koichiro Noji (Director, SEN-OKU HAKUKOKAN MUSEUM TOKYO)