Early Press Excerpts

 Review of first solo show @ New Art Gallery, San Francisco

“Sono Osato’s paintings at New Art do not look like California Art is supposed to. They are more involved with darkness than with light, and they emphasize impersonal rather than expressive qualities of the art object.

There is plenty of intense feeling in Osato’s work, but you will miss it if you see emotional content only in demonstrative gestures or moody colors. Most of the color in her work flickers beneath magmatic masses of black or gray paint matter. The tarry mixtures of media she applies to her canvasses tend to blur the trail of gesture, making it difficult to tell just how much the surface quality of a finished work owes to her hand.

Osato’s canvases have a sculptural presence because of the mass of material they hold. They are more substantial physically than most paintings because she mixes oil paint with weightier materials such as asphalt, beeswax, sand and marble dust.

Rather than deny their weight by hanging her pictures on the wall, she leans them against it, sometimes propping them on paint-spattered blocks of wood, as though they are in storage or still drying. Some, painted on both sides, stand free of the wall, propped up on rough timbers.

A single work may consist of two or more canvases in loose composites, setting up an ambiguous play of parts and wholes that vibrate throughout the show…..

The key feeling in Osato’s work is a love of the physical world expressed through objects that intensify one’s attention to the sensuous specifics of matter….”

Kenneth Baker

The San Francisco Chronicle

July 4, 1986


Review of “The Sound of Ku”@ Brian Gross Fine Art

“Most of the time, Osato’s paintings look ponderous, especially those that sit at floor level. Yet they can also suddenly appear weightless, increate, like swatches of natural phenomena. 

How can the same object support two contradictory experiences?

How do we ever see beyond the materiality of an art object to meanings that seem impalpable?

To sustain our attention to these questions-if not answer them-is the apparent aim of Osato’s recent work. Her Japanese titles reference Buddhism, perhaps as an instance of spiritual thought that, like painting, entails no denial of physical experience.”

Kenneth Baker

The San Francisco Chronicle

December 18, 1999