Leiko Ikemura

Islands Awake

30.08 – 13.10.2018


Galerie Mikael Andersen would like to welcome you to the opening of ISLANDS AWAKE with paintings and sculptures by Japanese-Swiss artist Leiko Ikemura on Thursday 30 August 2018, 5-7 pm.


In these melancholic, yet fairy tale-like islands and mountainscapes Leiko Ikemura balances and redefines the boundaries between Western and Oriental art, between ancient and modern forms of expression.


Reminiscing the Japanese landscapes of her childhood and the Alps from her time in Switzerland Ikemura depicts vast, luminous sceneries of ocean and mountains. The motives arise from a fusion of autobiography, memory and imagination, and as the artist engages in a play with illuminated horizontal lines, sculptural formations and transcendent forms begin to take shape.


An enigmatic, narrative quality pervades Ikemura’s oil paintings, the landscapes ripe with sensation and feeling. These are images of transformation where boundaries dissolve in a flickering rite of passage between light and darkness, air and water, being and nothingness.


In this fluid process of becoming, human and animal forms appear without ever becoming distinct figures. Ghostlike shapes of girls and tigers emerge from the sceneries like messengers from another world. Against a background of water, skies and mountains the islands awaken through this associative transformation of images, form and colour.


The sculptures, both ceramic and patinated bronze, continue this play between human and animal forms. One female shape is equipped with the long ears of a hare, while another is named ‘Kitsune Wife’, the Japanese word for ‘fox’. The piece ‘Lying in white’ looks almost like the fossil of a mermaid washed up from a distant, enchanted shore. These dislocated, childlike hybrids appear fragile and fragmented. Their surfaces are perforated and patinated and constitute vulnerable membranes between the inside and the outside world. Ikemura regards these sculptures as “vessels of being”, a physical expression of the permeability between form and non-form, life and nothingness.


Leiko Ikemura was born in Tsu, Japan. She studied at the universities in Ōsaka as well as in Salamanca and Granada and at the Academy of fine arts in Seville. Ikemura’s work has been shown at renowned international institutions such as Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe (2012), Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum, Shizuoka, Japan (2014), Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, (2015) and Haus am Waldsee, Berlin (2016). In 2019, a solo exhibition of her work will be shown at National Art Center Tokyo and thereafter at Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland.


From 1991 to 2015 Ikemura taught at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. Since 2014 she is a professor at the Joshibi University of Art and Design, Kanagawa, Japan. Leiko Ikemura lives and works in Berlin and Cologne, Germany.

Installation views: Jan Søndergaard