Zenzo Sakamoto was born in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, in 1911. He studied yoga (Western-style painting) at Teikoku Art School in Tokyo from 1931 to 1934. After serving in the military from 1935 to 1946, he returned Kumamoto and devoted himself to painting still lifes. In 1949, he became a member of Dokuritsu bijutsu kyokai (Independent Art Association) and his works were exhibited regularly in Dokuritsu-ten (Independent Art Association exhibitions).
Sakamoto visited Europe from 1957 to 1959. The strong presence and solid construction of European architecture inspired the artist, and his painting style changed, becoming simpler and abstract. After returning to Kumamoto, he continued to produce abstract paintings but also incorporating elements of Japanese culture and climate. He started to use various shades of grey, the colour for which the artist would become known. Muted tones of white, grey and black create a deep and quiet ambience in his works. He was awarded twice at the Dokuritsu-ten in 1965 and 1967.
Sakamoto’s works were exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Sakamoto Zenzo ten at Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art in 1985 and a retrospective exhibition Zenzo Sakamoto at Nerima Art Museum in Tokyo from 1997-98. About 500 works are housed in Sakamoto Zenzo Museum of Art in Kumamoto today and other works have also entered various museum collections including Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art and Fukuoka Art Museum. For a work titled Solidarity, 1967 in The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, go to: http:/search.artmuseums.go.jp/search_e/records.php?sakuhin=5070