Exhibition: Sadaharu Horio at Axel Vervoordt Gallery - conceptual radicalism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2015, 6:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2015, 6:05am

Sadaharu Horio

Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Central

Until September 3

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 influenced by Gutai's acknowledged leader, Jiro Yoshihara, who encouraged all group members to do art "that was different".

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.

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. 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 216cm x 276cm 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.