KEN NAKAHASHI is pleased to announce Dr. Reaper, a solo exhibition by Masaharu Sato, to be held from February 15 (Fri) until March 16 (Sat), 2019.

Masaharu Sato has been struggling with an intractable disease for nearly eight years. After his life expectancy sentenced last September, it became difficult to make new video works due to his declining vision. However, he kept passionate in making acrylic painting on wooden panels. Unable to leave home, he spent his time in his quiet deteriorating home awaiting demolition. In these times, his eyes would catch familiar sights—Sato cut out such moments and traced them full scale on the panels.

Filtered through his brushstrokes, familiar motifs would reappear as individual mental representations. In this exhibition, 9 of these new paintings will be shown.

Masaharu Sato obtained an M.F.A. in painting at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1999. Later studied in Germany at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and lived 10 years, and returned to Japan in 2010. He has shown numerous exhibitions in several capital cities. In 2009, he received special prize at the 12th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art, and in 2011 selected for Jury Selection of the 15th JAPAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL. The solo exhibition Hara Documents 10 Masaharu Sato: Tokyo Trace at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in 2016 has attracted wide attention.

He is best known for his video art that utilizes the rotoscope technique, in which he uses a pentool to trace images taken by a video camera, and animating them. Shown by the motifs in the reanimated video footage are ‘real and slightly bizarre moments’ that bring a notion of reality and unreality interlacing.

Dr. Reaper will be held in parallel with two exhibitions showing Sato's video art.

  • Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Crossing 2019: Connexions (February 9 ~ May 26, 2019)
  • Tokyo Arts and Space (TOKAS), ACT Vol.1 First Lingering Mist of Spring (February 23 ~ March 24, 2019)

Artist statement by Masaharu Sato

In September 2018, after having fought cancer for 8 years, I was told by my doctor that I have only three months left, and my real estate agent requested us to leave the house where I live by March 2019 due to its deterioration.

The method for the nine new paintings do not differ so much with my video works. I photograph the motifs, trace the shape on my computer, reillustrate them on wooden panels with acrylic paint.

Unlike the digital work, the physical sense of painting on the panel was very pleasant. It was also my first experience of joy appreciating and confronting the painting on the wall in progress.

It may be thanks to cancer that I was able to draw a picture with such fresh thoughts at the age of 45.

The doctor who declared my life expectancy was a type of person far different from the doctors who had examined me before, he always stared at the Computer screen without ever looking at my face.

After all, among the 7 months of anticancer drug treatments, the only time he looked into my eyes was when he rotated his chair to face me and say, that anticancer treatment will not be effective anymore, so I should move on to the palliative care.

While watching his inhumane face well beyond the human world, I noticed that I had not been treated as a human being from the beginning.

Immediately after that, I came up with a nickname for him called Dr. Reaper, and my heart became really easy.

Life expectancy is a trap. Believing in the time limit and waiting for death is a suicidal act.

How I spend the three months is up to me.

I wish to paint the existences vanishing along with the house, without having to mind anyone's eyes..


  • Title: Masaharu Sato Dr. Reaper
  • Period: February 15 (Fri) ~ March 16 (Sat), 2019
  • Venue: KEN NAKAHASHI (5F, No.2 Shinjuku Bldg, 3-1-32, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo)
  • Hours: 11:00 - 21:00
  • Closed: Sundays & Mondays
  • Opening: February 15 (Fri) from 18:00~

Words about each works written by Masaharu Sato

Masaharu Sato passed away peacefully under the warm company of his family, 10:56 am March 9th, 2019, at the age of 45.

The Artist

Masaharu Sato


  • 1973 Born in Oita, Japan
  • 1996 Received an B.F.A. in painting at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan
  • 1999 Received an M.F.A. in painting at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan
  • 2000-2002 Studied sculpture at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2010 Moved to Japan
  • 2019 Died in March 9

selected works