Leiko Ikemura

16 MAR until 20 APR 2024

Contemporary Fine Arts is proud to present MOMSTARS, Leiko Ikemura’s first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition, which spreads over both gallery’s floors, encompasses Ikemura’s most recent works and those from the 1980s. It unveils the artist’s formal and thematic range, high- lighting the consistencies in Ikemura’s work over the past decades, not unlike a comprehensive survey of the artist’s practice.

“It has been a unique destiny. The artist Ikemura always positioned herself at the crossroads of history, as an observer, with the precision and incongruity of a cat in a ray of light,” Anaël Pigeat notes in the catalogue text for the exhibition. Born in Japan, which she left for Spain, she moved on to Switzerland, and finally Germany. Ikemura lived in Cologne before moving to Berlin in the 1990s, at a time when the city was faced with the very need to overcome those boundaries that Ikemura has been crossing in her work for decades.

Ikemura’s works not only reflect the artist’s profound concerns about the intricacies of the world around her but also her deep immersion in art historical traditions and awareness of the necessity to build upon them rather than discard them, occupying a distinctive position in the contemporary art landscape. As Pigeat notes, “Ikemura has always worked between abstraction and figuration, with the idea that observing nature often boils down to shadows and vibrations.”

In her paintings, drawings and sculptures, Ikemura delves into the contradictions inherent in our perceptions of the world and our identities: the interplay between presence and absence, vulnerability and empowerment, light and shadow, nature and culture. Her hybrid beings across mediums blur such boundaries as they draw from traditions of both Western and Eastern art, making even those discernments obsolete in the face of creative freedom.

Her sculptures and paintings of hybrid creatures, as well as of Girls fixed between childhood and adulthood, equally transcend any specifications and definitions. Her “Rocket Girls I + II” display both humility and cheekiness, as Ikemura sculpts her way through our deepest struggles and gives them shape. “For Ikemura,” as Pigeat notes, “sculpting is first and foremost about giving form to emptiness. Both destructive and nurturing, these figures each have a rocket on their back, unless it’s a lizard, a phallic shape, or a small aeroplane,” she guesses.

Fascination with creatures that exist on the threshold between the real and the mythological awards Ikemura’s works almost an otherworldly atmosphere. These figures capture our attention, enjoy it, provoke it and may even be a little annoyed by it. The figure of the mother is a perfect metaphor for this unstable position – how much does it take to go from a star to a monster in the eyes of a child, or one’s own?