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b. 1952, Japan

Makoto Saito Biography

Makoto Saito, one of the world’s preeminent graphic designers, transformed his career and became an artist five years ago with a solo exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. Saito dramatically distorts his subjects— most recently portraits of classic film makers and iconic images from their films—by creating seemingly multi-layered, miniature pools of color that blur the image’s original outline.  This ghostly blurring resembles the imprecise way that images are stored and recalled from unconscious memory.

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In his interview in the catalogue that accompanied Saito’s exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the artist said, “I’m going to see things from my own angle, however distorted, and show occasional excerpts along the way. That might mean film clips, but what I’m really seeing are scenes steeped in human social interaction.  As I said before, society today constitutes a single thread of digital and natural elements, and I can’t tell which side I’m standing on, back or front. What I’m thinking now is, I would like to express not just the pretty surface of things, but also the internalized ugly parts as well.”

Saito’s work has also been exhibited at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, The Victoria and Albert Museum, England, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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