Ms Sata was born and raised in Nagasaki but was not there when the atomic bomb blast occurred August 9, 1945. As "The Colorless Paintings" opens the narrator and her friend Y are at the opening day of an exhibit of painting at the very prestigious Tokyo National Museum. They are looking for painting done by their friend K which are part of the exhibit. K was a member of the communist party of Japan as was the narrator. He also had advanced tuberculosis. They find the paintings.
The pictures seem like softly moaning heretics..The pictures even remind us of burnt bones... These posthumous paintings of his completely deny all color. K, while painting them, repeatedly rejected color..the paintings are powerful precisely because they are colorless, because we see them as an honest expression of the violent drama that took place within him, purity withdrawing into itself.
K's paintings were done after he was diagnosed as having radiation sickness from his presence on August 9, 1945. K and the narrator were long time associates in the communist party of Japan but she never knew he was exposed to the atomic bomb. He never spoke of it nor had her friend Y who was also exposed. K lived the rest of his life in silent anxiety over what the effects of the blast on him might be one day. Exposure to the bomb was known by the early 1950s to produce high rates of cancer and leukemia in those exposed to it. They left the exhibit to go to an annually held memorial event for the victims of the bomb. The event takes place at The Nagasaki Peace Park
Y spoke for the first time about the day when the atomic bomb was dropped. And because she had done so, K also spoke about it, he too for the first time. When describing the tragic scene, K seemed to be walking back and forth in the midst of the ruins. "Everyday I was walking among corpses. And even after I heard about how K and his friends had wandered around in the radiated area, I somehow thought of them as being outside the radiation.
The narrator tells us that K died of liver cancer.
The name of the disease is liver cancer. But what is the name of the thing that deprived this man of all color? What could it be called? It seems that the ideas suggested by these painting preclude anything that is common place. They appear to belong to another realm. They rather seem to be produced by the will to defy, but that defiance had to be painted, even though the colors escaped the artist, and that's why they display an unnamable grief...Y sways and takes a step forward. It seems as though her body automatically sways and takes a step..Y must have sensed deep in her heart what the paintings were saying.