Hong Hong Hong
Hong Hong Hong
15 Dec 2023
Ay-O: Hong Hong Hong highlights the practice of Japanese artist Ay-O, widely known as the ‘rainbow artist’, who has explored the universal motif of the rainbow in ever-expanding constellations of forms, ideas, and moods, driven by his unflagging humour, curiosity, and imagination. Ay-O developed his distinct visual language in the immediate aftermath of World War II and later in the milieu of the international movement of Fluxus, centred in New York City in the 1960s. These experiences shaped his belief that art should be as widely accessible as possible. From this anti-elitist philosophy emerged his signature rainbow patterns, which he has been applying and adapting to numerous canvases, sculptures, and environments over the last six decades.
Inaugurating the new M+’s ‘Pao-Watari Exhibition Series’ of monographic exhibitions on significant figures and moments in the histories of art and visual culture of Asia, Ay-O: Hong Hong Hong features Ay-O’s works from the 1950s to the 2000s, complemented by a selection of Fluxus works by the artist and his fellow compatriots.
About the Artist
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1931 as lijima Takao, Ay-O is one of the most celebrated artists to have emerged in post-war Japan. He was part of several epochal groups and movements in Japan and the United States, before forging the internationally renowned artistic identity as the ‘Rainbow Artist.’ Ay-O joined the Demokrato Artists Association in 1953 while he was a student in the art department of Tokyo University of Education. In 1958, he moved to New York, and he later joined the Fluxus group through the introduction of Yoko Ono. Ay-O remained active within an international network, which pioneered a number of areas such as intermedia and cross-disciplinary experimentations and performance. By the early 1960s, Ay-O began to develop a unique visual language based on rainbow colours, which would become his signature style and encompass a wide range of mediums including paintings, prints, sculptures, and installation.
Image at top: Ay-O. Hong Hong Hong, 1999. Acrylic on canvas. M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Ann Tranqui and Hossein Zaimi, 2023. Acquisition in progress. © Ay-O. Image courtesy of the artist.