Review, 2012 (English)

by Motoaki Yoshizaki
Chief Curator/Deputy Director, Sapporo Art Museums

The works of Shinsaku Horita are mainly characterized by long, straight plates of aluminum, lined up vertically, and support as the base material for these works. The groundwork for this aluminum is an anodizing process which dulls the surface, but the action of a secondary grinding process results in a partial sparkle or glitter effect. Silver paint applied to the anodized surface, combined with the glittery scratches produces a complicated mixture. Then, controlled very carefully through a silver tone, a rigorous or austere pattern emerges and the vague, ungraspable depth results in the painting being lit up.
In his work, there are many cases in which a pair of paintings are set against each other to work as one. The 2 faces, at first glance, appear to be the same, but actually are very different paintings. People who look at them are looking for the differences, and these differences come and go, appear and disappear. The audiences’ gaze goes back and forth between the two paintings to find out what is different — they are trying to find a solution. The pair’s similarity is derived from the production process. 
First, after painting the 2 separate works, the slim flat bars of aluminum, which act as the complete foundation for the  “canvas” are divided up, and then the divided parts are shifted according to a fixed formula. In other words, the 2 different paintings are purposely merged, melded, and comingled together. The genetic male and female are changed, so to speak, and their descendants go through a process of dismantling and reassembling, and they are finally born into a similar life system. The flat-bars are turned upside-down or exchanged between the 2 paintings or within 1 painting, and at times the same process is done with 3 or more paintings.       

For over 10 years, Mr.Horita has consistently used this form of expression and I think, in that context, some very important elements are present. One is, he is an artist who is always asking the fundamental question, “What is Art?”  These days, our contemporary society is flooded with massive quantities of  printed images (photographs) on a screen. But, especially at a moment when the original works of art are in front of the viewer’s eyes, people who see those images directly reconsider the significance of what it means to see the original, and the lure, it has been said. is “a pursuit of truth”. In his original works of art, the overwhelming size and texture, and the angle at which it is viewed, causes a change in the reflection of light. Because he has a meticulously worked out plan, an acute sensitivity by the viewer is hatched. Different shapes rise to the surface in his works, including mountains, lakes, snowy landscapes, water reflections, and, to no small extent, landscapes inside of memories.

He wrote the followings sometime ago;
“People see what they believe, and don’t believe what they see. When people look at my paintings, they try to find concrete or tangible things. But when they are searched for, the viewer’s heart is projected, and cast back. My painting is not a concrete thing ─── the spirit of the people looking at it is needed to cast a reflection of their heart.” Lecture from 1998’s solo exhibition ” The Journey is the Reward” 

Without a doubt, a flat surface with something drawn on it doesn’t make it “a painting”, but when person stands in front of that same flat surface with something drawn on it, their heart is moved and they first possess the true meaning of art.

One more element is, Mr.Horita was born and grew up in the land of Hokkaido, where the history is very short in Japan. Even now, he’s continuing his work there. Japanese modern painting evolved and developed while being influenced by western painting, specifically oil painting on canvas. European painting had a very long history, so the challenge became how to persevere and find our own (Japanese) way of painting using western techniques. On the other hand, in Japan, sumi ink as well as natural pigments were fixed on to paper and silk. Together, this special sense of beauty was passed on from generation to generation. Mr.Horita understands he’s a part of that flow of historical trends and has been strongly influenced by the American Abstract Expressionist Movement. But he has, to no small extent, a complex rooted in the fact that there is a lack of historical cultural weight during the opening up period of Hokkaido.
His work is something that is not borrowed and can’t be found anywhere else in the world ─── it’s not a westernized style and it’s not a traditional Japanese style. It’s rooted in neither style. So he developed a strong will for his own new expression. Hokkaido is a cold region covered by snow for over one-third of the year. Mr.Horita’s work has a feeling of sharpness, cold light, clear air, etc. He grew up in this cold climate so there are many similarities between the two. The aluminum is strong and light and easy to work with, the paint spreads and bonds well to the aluminum, making the process very manageable. Not only that, this metal has a cool silence (compared to other metals) and visually contemporary. He is an ambitious artist and has his own original style and sensitivity born out of the northern country. His work resonates in a sharp and strong, fertile, personal world.

In recent years, he has been trying to separate himself from making rectangular works. Until now, works he has made have a convex rise toward the viewer in the center of the piece, giving a visual feeling of depth, intermingled with real undulations. Recent works have an added expression, resulting in graphic forms that give the illusion of a cube and parallelogram. Also, vertically lined up plates intersected by diagonal lines make diagonal parts, suggesting the illusion of bends in the surface.  Expressions on the surface of an art work is the world of illusion. Mr,Horita takes a posture of deepening thought about how people understand form, and how do they feel about 3-dimensional impressions or the depth of 3-dimensions.

translation by Steven Homman

translation by Steven Homman