Jack Hanley Gallery East Hampton is excited to present the first solo exhibition by New York-based artist Koichi Sato. While growing up in Tokyo, Japan, before moving to New York in the late 90s, Koichi Sato was fascinated with old American magazines that portrayed American pop culture, showing sports players, sitcom stars, astronauts or cheerleaders. The language of his paintings is strongly informed by the pictures of these magazines and give them their distinct vintage feel, evoked through thick mustaches and other style choices of the 70s and 80s.

The joyful group portraits are never depictions of actual people but instead imaginary characters in invented scenes. Humans and animals are posing together in fictitious settings of tropics, the desert or unknown lands of rainbows, facing the viewer, laughing and proudly presenting themselves. Their inventiveness becomes especially clear when taking a closer look at the figures’ fingers in which their polydactyly is based on Sato’s personal decision making of when he thinks ‘there are enough’.


A vivacious and playful application of paint with short brush strokes and dots is paired with a more light washy technique seen around their faces, sometimes drippings running down the surface. The combination of the painting techniques and bursts of color paired with an imagery synthesized from different places, times and cultures, the paintings feel like a celebration of life itself.

Koichi Sato (b. 1974 in Tokyo) is a self-taught artist based in New York. He has had solo shows at Bill Brady Gallery in Miami, Woaw in Hong Kong, and the Hole, New York. Selected group exhibitions include THE UPSTAIRS at Bortolami, New York; Anecdote at Stems Gallery in Brussels; Global Pop Underground at Parko Museum, Tokyo; Punch at Deitch in both Los Angeles and New York; Bill Brady Gallery alongside Susumu Kamijo in New York; and most recently at Galerie Nagel Draxler in Cologne.