Acquavella Galleries announces its first solo presentation of works by the renowned Japanese artist Makoto Saito. On view April 14 through May 28, 2023, at Acquavella’s Palm Beach location, in TIME E.H. features twelve new and recent paintings inspired by the noted American artist Edward Hopper, marking the international debut of this body of work.
Saito’s deep interest in Hopper’s oeuvre goes back nearly forty years, to when he first saw Hopper’s painting House by the Railroad (1925) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Compelled by Hopper’s ability to capture the American ethos of the early 20th century, and by the narrative qualities of his paintings, Saito began exploring this series a decade ago, and only recently returned to transcribe the works onto canvas. In these paintings, Saito extrapolates Hopper’s world into his own, conceptually merging the timelines of the two, transcending temporalities.
“As I gazed at [Hopper’s] works, I found my consciousness and body naturally enter the paintings, enabling me to musingly journey through time and space as if in the world of science fiction,” says Saito. “His paintings are so lonesome to the extent of sheer melancholy. They evoke an air of solitude regardless of whether people are depicted there or not, yet at the same time they speak to me as if every piece has its own story.”
Saito’s process is both painstaking and arduous. It involves producing countless hand-painted dots to mimic the printing process, culminating in scenes that are at once structured and ethereal. The artist deconstructs Hopper’s iconic paintings through his use of pointillism, which he employs as a method of engagement with the world within the painting itself. At close range, the subject is indiscernible—only the small dots that comprise the image are visible—yet as one moves further away the composition coalesces as one of Hopper’s scenes, which he then alters through changes in scale and color and also intervenes with his own painterly passages.
In his exploration of Hopper’s oeuvre, Saito frequently revisits the artist’s most iconic paintings as starting off points for his works. Shadow (2022) is instantly recognizable as an interpretation of A Woman in the Sun (1961, Whitney Museum of American Art), Hopper’s painting of a nude woman staring out the window of an empty apartment. Saito’s rendition, which utilizes his signature pointillist technique in shades of blue, is decidedly reticent, with pieces of the original composition lost to a void that fills the center of the frame. The same phenomenon is seen in Office (2022) and Bed (2022), which reference Hopper’s Office at Night (1940, Walker Art Center) and Excursion into Philosophy (1959, Private Collection), respectively. In these paintings, Saito brings to the fore the loneliness, emptiness, and melancholy characteristic of Hopper’s worlds. In additional paintings, Saito omits aspects of Hopper’s larger composition to explore the minutiae of a scene.