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To mark the launch of our latest art exhibition "It's Cozy Inside" Nepenthes NY set up an Artist Spotlight to delve further into the work showcased at the store.

In this special series, we interview the artists involved with the show. We ask them questions about their art, the exhibition, and what New York means to them. 

The first artist featured in the "It's Cozy Inside" Artist Spotlight is Koichi Sato. He comes from Japan, and was instrumental in organizing this exhibition. The interview continues below.



Please tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from? When did you come to New York? What does New York mean to you?

I am from Tokyo, Japan. I came here to study film in 1999.  At that time, NY was rougher, and exciting. People did not get along, but lived together. With that being said, I was really inspired by NY culture and people here.  

I went to school to study film, but I realized I could not work well with people in this context. I gave up on the production field and focused more on editing and graphics. Then, I did more illustration and art.

Please tell us a bit about your process. Why this medium? How do you choose your subjects? Is there an overarching theme in your work?

My main subject for painting is always people, so I start to think what people I want to paint. I paint the faces of people first, then paint the background. I would think I focus on people first, rather than a collective theme.

Please tell us how you became involved with this group exhibition.

Tomoro Watanabe, who is the owner of Tacoma Fuji, is my friend. He came to NY for a pop-up show, and I met Takuya from Nepenthes NY through him. Takuya asked me to collaborate on the show and then, it all happened.


Some of the figures in your paintings have more, or sometimes less, than 5 fingers. Is there a deeper significance to this? What do the mustaches mean to you?

People always ask me about it, but I do not have any intended purposes of the number of fingers. When I am painting and I think if it looks good, then it is all is fine.  When I see old images across history, I see some men have mustaches and I am always obsessed such images.  I might be inspired by them and that reflects to the paintings.

Does being self-taught hold a certain significance to you? Has it made anything easier for you? More difficult?

My main concern for painting is “FUN”.  I just paint what I like, and I just don’t paint what I do not like. It is a very simple process.  I have no idea of painting techniques and I do not know what people refer to them as, but I just am glad how my painting ends up.


The "It's Cozy Inside" exhibition is currently showing at Nepenthes NY, and will run through the end of March 2021.