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Sadaharu Horio
at 4:49pm on 16th July 2015


1. Sadaharu Horio, Untitled, 2015, folded Echizen Washi paper and black poster colour, H 216 x W 276 cm.

2. Sadaharu Horio, Untitled, 2015, chalk on folded Echizen Washi paper, H 219 x W 277 cm.

3. Sadaharu Horio, Untitled, 1967, acrylic, fabric and wire on panel, H 43.5 x W 43.5 x D 21 cm.

All images courtesy of artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Hong Kong.


The Axel Vervoordt Gallery has a small exhibition space in the middle of Central. This convenient location may govern the gallery’s small size, but the three works on display by veteran Japanese artist Sadaharu Horio offer more than a taster. The artist’s longevity and history of only working within an abstract and conceptual framework spurs an interested viewer for more information.

At the Asia Art Archive, I opened a monograph on Horio and inside the front cover was a small original abstract painting, signed by the artist. This nonchalant inclusion, disregarding conservation and value considerations, is in keeping with Horio’s commitment that his life is his art. Born in 1939, Horio’s reputation was initially cemented by being a member of the legendary Japanese abstract and performance Gutai Art Association.

Horio formally joined Gutai in 1966 when the group’s avant-garde, Dada-like events and exhibitions were on the wane. He was however influenced by Gutai’s acknowledged leader Jiro Yoshihara who encouraged all group members to do art “that was different” and “not repeat yourself.” In the decades since Yoshihara’s death and Gutai’s disbandment in 1972, Horio has continued using performance and a range of material, found objects, junk, public space and formal exhibitions to show confronting art and art-like installations.

His work is always non-objective and abstract and he particularly has an interest in simple daily objects that he subverts into art pieces called ‘Ordinary Things’ – of which thousands of pieces have been completed. A precursor of this series, from 1967, is on display in the gallery, combining twisted painted wire and fabric protruding from a white wooden frame.

Two large folded paper ‘paintings’ (both Untitled, approx 216x276 cm each) dominate the exhibition. These were completed in Europe earlier this year using intentionally folded and distressed Japanese paper. Then, using these folds and placing stencils on the paper, the painted sections are completed. The results have a ghostly, ephemeral, air-like beauty that offers a gentle introduction to Horio’s conceptual radicalism.

'Sadaharu Horio' @ Axel Vervoordt Gallery

See performance by Sadaharu Horio, 'Manipulating the Air', Axel Vervoordt Gallery, 14 May 2015.


A version of this review was published in the South China Morning Post, 7 July 2015.



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