It is said that collage was invented by Japanese artists over 800 years ago; some say it was perfected by Horiuchi. Described as romantic, serene, and sensitive, his collages have earned him the title "Master of Collage".
Horiuchi was born on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi in Japan in 1906 and as a young man studied calligraphy, sumi painting, and watercolor under artist Iketani. He came to the United States in 1922, and moved to Seattle in 1946, where he began study with Zen Master, Takazaki. Takazaki introduced him to Mark Tobey. In 1954, Paul Horiuchi executed his first collage, a medium that would later become his hallmark.
Horiuchi initially painted in oils, turning gradually to collage. He dyed sheets of handmade rice and mulberry paper with casein and other pigments, producing a palette of colors. He then tore these papers into different shapes, the frayed lacy edges contributing an aesthetic quality, and pasted them into different configurations. The abstract designs reveal an Oriental influence.
Horiuchi said that his collages are "attempts to produce areas of peace and serenity with which to balance the sensationalism- the fast, hard tempo- of our time." Through his skillful use of paint and Japanese rice paper he has become a master at communicating this wish to his audience.
Horiuchi enjoyed a close, long-lasting friendship with Mark Tobey. They shared an interest in Zen philosophy and Asian antiques and spent many hours together. His first major one-artist exhibit was held at the Zoe Dusanne Gallery in Seattle in 1957. This was followed in 1958 by a one-artist exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. In 1969, a retrospective exhibition was held at both the Museum of Art at the University of Oregon and the Seattle Art Museum.
Horiuchi has been the recipient of many honors and awards. A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle was granted him in 1955. His works are in the collections of major museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, and Cambridge University, England.