‘I get bored very, very easily,’ warns the globetrotting Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, whose latest series of works – inspired by his 18 month-long residency in Tokyo, Japan – is on show at White Cube Hong Kong.
The 80 watercolour paintings range from postcard- to poster-size and are produced on the simple gilt-edged card ubiquitous to Japanese stationery stores, which he covers with gold leaf before painting.
The works feature Orozco’s trademark semi-abstract geometrical circles dissected with precise lines, along with an ethereal natural landscape quality that evokes the fluidity of sumi-e brushstrokes.
‘I see the gold surface like an empty space,’ he says. ‘I start with brush strokes to activate that perfect gold surface.’
The paintings are deliberately propped up on a narrow unvarnished timber shelf, that runs throughout the pristine white two-storey gallery space; to be experienced ‘more as objects reclining on the shelf’, the artist explains.
While best viewed as a complete collection, the standout piece of the exhibition is one of the smaller and more simple iterations, a sole leaf that the artist painted in a single brushstroke.
This eagle-eyed focus on space is his trademark. ‘Emptiness is my favourite subject,’ he says. ‘Here it was about what to leave empty like the spaces in a Zen garden.’
Fear of boredom keeps him moving to different countries, a process that helps him learn by continually trying new things, he says.
‘It’s very strange, though, because I tend to go to the same restaurant and order exactly the same things off the menu,’ he laughs. ‘But not with my work.’