Home > Life in Japan > Features
  print button email button

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2005


Shoichiro Satake

At 46, Shoichiro Satake, owner of Galerie Sho Contemporary Art, is Japan's biggest dealer of works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. While more than 3,000 Warhols and 100 Basquiats have passed through his hands, their essence has stayed with him.

Shoichiro Satake

It is hard to share pain, but through art we can. The more people see a piece and absorb its suffering, the more its negative energy is transformed into positive. Art is magic.

I communicate with people through art, which is pretty close to religion. The artist is God and I'm the priest selling God's soul. It's too bad that many Japanese don't believe in God.

I am always standing alone. As a kid I was bullied for a number of reasons: Because I was rich, I was half Chinese and I couldn't open my right hand because of a burn injury. I was a cripple three times over, but that made me strong and single-minded. I decided that I was going to make it big and make it alone. And I did.

I live a double life and I'm paying for it. From 9 to 3, I trade large volumes of futures, up in the 100 billion yen range, and I rake in a healthy 20 percent profit. I've got to so I can feed my art addiction. I only make money to buy more art. It's all about getting that next fix.I get high on art and I don't want to come down.

I am an artist who knows he's not good enough to make the grade. I wanted to be an artist, but I quickly realized I was out of the league I wanted to be in, so I switched to art dealing. But in a sense I am just as crazy as the artists I represent. Except I use discipline to control my suicidal urges.

Purity, sadness and violence attract me - in art and in people.

I am not some rich family's second-generation loser of a son. I don't believe in sucking cash out of my parents. Although we were loaded, I haven't taken even one yen from them since my 18th birthday. That is when I paid for my own telephone line so I could start playing the stock market, initially with tiny denominations. I immediately took huge risks, made a big profit and, ever since then, all the money I invest is my own.

I am a mutt and I've got the best qualities from each of my parents. My Japanese mother instilled me with the importance of kindness to others, while my Chinese father taught me to be warm and loving toward my family.

An accident got me into art. When I was 7 months old, my right hand was severely burned and I could only open my palm after three operations and 10 years of rehabilitation, which included art classes. I hated them because, while other kids rendered a perfect likeness of a cup, my drawings looked like UFOs from hell. But my teacher liked them, and after I finished another awful, dark mess on paper, he always praised it and sent me home while other kids had to stay and redo their drawings.

Even as a kid I got the message: Abstraction is a vehicle; it gets to the point faster than anything.

My star sign is the wild boar and it shows. In the Chinese Zodiac, boars are revered for the way they put kindness above all else. This is true for me, so I'm an easy target for people who want to use me.Luckily I can protect myself because I can instantly see into a person's soul. This is my tragedy because often what I see hurts and disgusts me. Only art heals my soul.

I am like Rocky Balboa. I am always fighting a losing battle, but somehow I end up winning.

I am a recovering masochist. I was a challenged kid and was bullied all the time. The harder the experience was and the more discrimination I felt, the more I wanted to succeed.

Silence is the most eloquent form of communication and I want more of it.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

Back to Top

About us |  Work for us |  Contact us |  Privacy policy |  Link policy |  Registration FAQ
Advertise in japantimes.co.jp.
This site has been optimized for modern browsers. Please make sure that Javascript is enabled in your browser's preferences.
The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.