Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by Sadaharu Horio at the gallery’s Kanaal location. The exhibition includes new works along with historical works from the 1960s when Horio was a member of the Gutai Art Association.

Sadaharu Horio was born in 1939 in Hyogo, Japan and became one of the youngest Gutai artists. Horio showed his work for the first time in 1965 in the 15th Gutai Art Exhibition and after officially joining the Gutai Art Association the following year, he remained with the group until its dissolution in 1972. Ever since, and up until today, Horio has been continually expanding on Gutai’s avant-garde spirit with an impressive body of experimental work, spanning different mediums. He is a pioneer in modern Kobe performance art and he has a significant influence on Japan’s contemporary art scene. He is involved in over one hundred projects annually — including solo and group exhibitions, as well as performances.

The relationship between art and everyday life is a key to understand Horio’s practice. He sees beauty in everyday life and turns our gaze to the ordinary through his works. Art and everyday life are inseparable for the artist. Each and every moment is singular and unique, therefore, every waking hour is to create and perform. He undertakes this task daily as an ever-repeating ritual. He takes various mediums that he finds in his surroundings — everything from scraps of metal to pieces of wood and even discarded material — in order to use them as a surface on which to paint. Ordinary objects were used to imprint and mark the large paper works on view in the gallery.

The visitor encounters large drawings made on washi, a Japanese type of paper, painted in monochrome with Chinese ink, pencil, black and white oil, as well as colourful oil paint or watercolour. To avoid making the choice of colour himself, he sticks to the sequence of colours in the paint box. He thereby avoids everything that is connected with subjectivity.

Horio eliminates any possibility of consciousness to intervene in the work process. Instead, he embraces elements of chance — every process counts and brings about “expression without expression”. During the creation process, Horio finds objects to imprint, and to use while folding, pressing, crumpling and wrinkling the large sheets of paper. This is why his work can be seen as both performance and painting. The creation process reinforces the idea that an exhibition is not the ultimate moment in his career, but rather an extension of his everyday living. Horio’s focus is on the act of creation itself. It resides in the ordinary and is encountered by surprise. He invites the viewer to participate and question traditional ideas about art.

In the gallery’s annex room, a selection of historical works from the early and late 1960s remind visitors of the artist’s Gutai career, while displaying the foundations of his on-going practices and philosophy. Here, Horio fully experimented with a range of different materials, including string, wire, rope, fabric and crumples of paper. These are glued, attached, and stitched together onto a panel, then painted over with acrylic. These kinds of experiments granted him access to the Gutai group, and caused Jiro Yoshihara and Kazuo Shiraga to take notice of his work.

On the occasion of, and in addition to this exhibition at the gallery, Horio set up a performance by way of entrance to the space, using the same humble materials as seen in his finished works, and without losing his strength and creativity he discovered in his early days. Throughout his long career, he has maintained a boundless energy and spirit of creativity.

Sadaharu Horio lives and works in Kobe, Japan. He participated in several historical exhibitions and performance events in Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, at Ashiya City Museum of Art & History and at Kyoto Independents, and abroad. Recently, Horio has performed in art institutions including Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Fundacio Miró in Barcelona, Guggenheim in New York, BOZAR in Brussels, Frankfurt LAB and Palazzo Fortuny in Venice.