Review,2007 (English)

by Toshio Nakamori

The dry and silvery mood that aluminum has, with its swirling waves and intensely running lines – it reminds us of the northern winter and the qualities of a blizzard.

Obihiro City – it is a place in the south-eastern Tokachi district of Japan’s northern island Hokkaido, once called “tukapchi” (ghost) by the indigenous Ainu people.

The coldness of the dry air inherent to this place seems to be entrenched in the world of Shinsaku Horita, who grew up in those rich plains facing the Pacific Ocean. His world also possesses the sharpness of a deadly weapon. This also suggests a likely link to the historical aspect of the Ainu as it is stated in the Nagata-Chimeikai: “Tokachi Ainu, extremely aggressive, ever engaging in invasion.” (Conflicts caused by affluence is and always has been a common pattern. The rich oil reserves in the middle and near east are one example).

His works reflect the feeling of the innate climate of the place where he was born. This feeling clearly differs from the moist feeling found around places like Tokyo or Kyoto.

In the northern land where he was born, nature does not follow the easy-going four-season flow, and the view of nature is so polarized that the indigenous Ainu people counted the years in winters and summers. The white, fierce winter, the bursting gorgeous summer – it is this radical extremeness of the nature up north that is contained in his works. And this intensiveness can also be observed historically in the short and radical world of Japan’s Azuchi-Momoyama period in the second half of the 16th century.

The Azuchi-Momoyama period defeated shogun Ashikaga’s Muromachi period which lasted for some 200 years. It is a period where the daimyos from the Sengoku period and the wealthy merchants of the cities introduced fresh culture from Europe, breaking and expanding the existing culture.

Amongst the pioneers of this period, there are two individuals representing this time: “Oda Nobunaga, the warlord” and “Sen no Rikyu, the master of tea ceremonies.” Nobunaga wore a western armor and destroyed the existing regime, while Sen no Rikyu is said to have cut all but one of the camellias in his garden just to emphasize the beauty of the flower. The Azuchi-Momoyama period was an intense time of terror and revolution as symbolized by these two men. With this period as its background, art forms like Cha no Yu (Japanese tea ceremony), Noh, Joururi and Kabuki developed from the people. Followed by the 200 year long Tokugawa shogunate, the Azuchi-Momoyama period is a beautiful era as short as some 50 years, in between two shogunates. It was also an aggressive momentary, ghost-like period. Like the glaring light of a katana-blade cutting through the old “medieval” Japan, Shinsaku Horita’s works seem to conceal this almost terrorist intensity. The radical culture of the tukapchi and the beauty of the Azuchi-Momoyama period within Japan’s history: The two tukapchis – ghosts – Tokachis seem to intersect within the artist, giving his works the elegance of a Japanese sword.

The light and dark shades of polished monotone silver, vertical strong lines connecting the sky and the earth like pillars of ice, and the wind blowing like a blizzard through there – the tukapchi inside of him is swirling like a snow storm. Tukapchi – the aggressive ghost with the shape of a blade. It appears like terrorism breaking up the existing old world of today, and at the same time it gives the impression of a silver plate of noble-spirited aspiration.

Hokkaido is located in the northern area of Japan and is a large island. Since 1870, it underwent extensive development as a new frontier under national policy. It once used to be a rich and unexplored region and served as the hunting ground of the indigenous Ainu, however the land became more and more developed and opened up by domestic immigrants. Shinsaku Horita himself is not of Ainu descent, hence, in a broad sense, he is a descendant of immigrants. (Responsible for text: Shinsaku Horita)