Eko Sato welcomed me in her home/gallery on a cold Monday. We had a few coffees and a nice talk about her beloved neighbourhood, Japan, and artists she supports unconditionally.
Where were you born?
Who are you Eko Sato?
Half french half Japanese, I write books that nobody has read in France, as they’re only published in Japan. Journalist for many years and art lover for ever.
What has lead you to open an art gallery?
My grand-father and my father were both painters, so I could say I was born in art. As you can see I have very big eyes and I watch, I watch, I watch. And when I see something that moves me, I feel the need to share it with others. It has always been like this, even when I was only a kid. I had been curating exhibitions for a long time, now and then, before deciding to open a real art gallery.
Like the exhibition “We love Japan”?
Exactly. In 2011, after the catastrophe, I really felt the need to help people who had lost everything in Japan. So I called all the artists, designers, creators I knew to see if they would join me on this. Amongst them were Philippe Starck and Olympia Le Tan. To each of them I sent hygienic masks worn by the Japanese when they have a flu, a habit that seems really odd to most Europeans. Artists turned those masks into beautiful art works, and we organized a huge auction sale in Les Arts Décos, with Mister Cornette de Saint-Cyr ! Fortunately, it was a great success.
What made you settle here, in le 20ème?
We have been living here for nine years and we were using the living room as an exhibition room from time to time. When the idea of opening my own art gallery first came, I started looking around for places in Le Marais, or elsewhere. But then I just realized that many art great galleries were opening in Belleville. Ways are changing and I think that nowadays people do not care anymore about where the gallery is located, they will go anywhere to see an artist they love.
And la rue des Cascades is quite special I believe?
Yes! There is a whole story around it, it has a soul. The mythical movie Casque d’or with the young Simone Signoret was shot in a little house just across the street and it nows hosts one of Paris’ last glass blowers. A few streets around here have names related to water Rue de la Mare, rue des Cascades, because historically it hosted the city’s water treatment. We also have the smallest and nicest bar in Paris and are very proud of it!
The exhibition takes place in what used to be your living room. There is something very personal about it?
Yes of course. I wanted to show artists that I love, without having to find a theme to link them all, and finally they all work perfectly together. The story of my encounter with Fred Le Chevalier is quite special. I had seen Fred’s drawings for a long time on the streets of Paris, he prints his drawings and shows them mostly in the 20th, but also around the Canal Saint Martin. In the neighbourhood, we all live with his drawings. I tried and tried to find out who he was, and finally found an email address, I wasn’t even sure it was his. Then I sent him a email – “fancy an exhibition?“, and here we are a few years later.