Nobuya Hoki was born in Kyoto in 1966, and he currently lives and works in Kyoto.
Hoki is a master of freehand drawing techniques, using either a dot or a line within his works. He works primarily with oils on a variety of panels and materials. Although his works seem to be composed of simply lines on a background, in fact they are spatially complex, with lines layered on top of one another and those lying adjacent creating a new style of relief painting.
In 1993, Hoki graduated from the Kyoto City University of Arts with an MFA in Painting, and has since continued to work from Kyoto. From the early stages of his career, Hoki has been making his own original tools to create his trademark “Nihon-ga” (double line painting) style. They draw two lines at once, and create a very smooth and delicate line with a very sharp edge. Hoki keeps information about his tools a closely guarded secret, but emphasises that there is nothing particularly spectacular about them. At first he developed the technique just for fun, but started to use them more seriously in his work from 2005. To Hoki, it is the relationship between the negative space and the lines that draw his interest, and the complexity of harmony between each individual line.
Hoki does not only experiment with lines, but also the background itself, with his recent interests being in the pure whiteness of his works, choosing then to reveal the white he used for correcting, or cutting and moving the lines and white backgrounds of his work over and over again until he has a new composition. This complex layered technique in fact emphasises what Hoki calls the “verbalisation of whiteness”, or bringing the white to the fore of his composition.
In 2014, he has started using commercial brushes again, and developed his work further using colour to increase the complexity and depth within his paintings. His iconic two-tone brush strokes can still be seen, and continue to provide an effect not too dissimilar to an optical illusion. Although his earlier works were largely monochromatic, the white in the background and the lines stood out against one another in a dynamic dance across the surface. Now there are more colours interacting within the background and in the lines themselves, it has given a more fluid impression and is not as starkly contrasting as before. Not only that, but it emphasises the different layers of lines which provide the painting with added depth.
Aside from Hoki’s “Nihon-ga” technique, he has also experimented with dots. These paintings have the same spontaneous feeling as his works with lines. He uses his unique tools to create the dots in a number of coloured themes, such as blue tones etc. What makes Hoki’s work exceptional is the detail he puts in to the colours, line and his understanding and manipulation of space. His work is abstract, yet also deceptively figurative and open to interpretation. Playful, energetic, yet complex and deep, Hoki has skilfully brought Japanese painting to a new level.