Seductive, poetic, and philosophical are three terms often used to describe Roni Horn's layered and curatorially acclaimed practice.
A true polymath, Horn has garnered a distinguished international reputation for her drawings, photographs, sculptures, and collages departing from research and layered observations surrounding the dynamism of the natural world.
When You See Your Reflection in Water, Do You Recognize the Water in You? at the Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, is the artist's first museum exhibition in Japan (18 September 2021–30 March 2022) and follows recent shows at Château La Coste and Kunsthaus Göttingen (both 2021), Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2020), and The Menil Collection, Houston (2019–2020).
Water and rivers are key motifs in the artist's practice, and many of her projects involve the unique geology of Iceland, where she has been regularly travelling since 1978. Drawn to the extreme volcanic and glacial landscape, Horn has photographed herself amongst a moss-covered lava field and produced photographic books documenting the geothermal shoreline.
In 2007, Horn unveiled Library of Water, a permanent installation of glacial water deposits situated in Iceland's coastal town, Stykkishólmur. Held in glass pillars, their curvature warps the surrounding external landscape while serving as a tacit, mirrored warning of our increasingly changeable ecologies.
Horn is also known for her flawlessly crafted large-scale glass sculptures, often in blushing, pastel tones, which hold the deceptive and mesmerising effect of being simultaneously both reflective and matte.
As Rachel Spence has described in the Financial Times, included works such as Air Burial (Cairngorms, Scotland) (2014–2017) 'resemble nothing so much as ancient, mysterious wells with surfaces that, though hard, give the illusion of water thanks to their transparency.'
With a meditative quality recalling the works of Donald Judd—who was friends with Horn—their post-minimalist aesthetic is a hit with collectors, often reaching over $1 million on the primary market.
Largely working in series, Pola Museum's show also includes Horn's other key bodies of work, such text-based sculptures inspired by writers including Emily Dickinson (Bouquet of Emily, 2006–2007); and monumentally-scaled abstract drawings such as Or 6 (2013–2014), constructed utilising Horn's distinctive approach of cutting up original drawings and splicing them together into abstract and symbolic forms.
Describing her intention to provoke mystery and encourage affective physical engagement from viewers—refraining from didacticism—Horn once noted, she is 'not interested in answers per se. Answers create closure. [Answers] are always provisional.' Horn's work is in intense demand from both collectors and museums alike.
A composite photographic work capturing the glistening ripples of London's River Thames, Still Water (The River Thames, For Example) (1999) sold for $378,000 last year at Sotheby's, over three times its high estimate. Later that year, Brussels gallerist Xavier Hufkens sold a large-scale installation to an unnamed institution for $750,000 during Art Basel Miami Beach's online iteration. —[O]
Main image: Roni Horn, Well and Truly (2009–2010). Solid cast glass with as-cast surfaces, 10 parts. Private collection. Exhibition view: Well and Truly, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010). © Roni Horn. Photo: Stefan Altenburge.
Selected works by Roni Horn
Hauser & Wirth