Tempera on jute
190 x 290 cm (74 3/4 x 114 1/8 in)
Leiko Ikemura studied literature in Osaka and Spain before switching to painting and enrolling at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes in Seville in 1973. She subsequently lived in Zurich for several years; in the 1980s, she moved to Germany, where she still resides. In this first period of her oeuvre, she focuses on drawing, grappling with the challenges of devising an authentic creative idiom. Her art is propelled in part by a searching reflection on her own femininity and the attempt to carve out a place for her life as a woman between her native Japan and her adoptive home in Europe.
A stay in Grisons in 1989 inspired Ikemura to develop a novel visual vocabulary that ultimately led her to a fusion of body and landscape. Then followed vaguely archaic hybrid creatures, which the artist increasingly also rendered in sculptures, and, in the 1990s, female figures hovering weightlessly at the horizon between earth and heaven, past and future, vulnerable and untouchable at once. In her most recent works, Ikemura conveys the melancholy yearning for an indivisible union between humankind and nature in oneiric landscapes of the soul. The phenomena of emergent form and metamorphosis gesture back toward the artist’s early oeuvre.
(Text: Kunstmuseum Basel, Dr. Anita Haldeman, 2019)