Leiko Ikemura: a.ï.r.e

Black Forest, 2013/14, tempera on jute, 100 x 150 cm © Leiko Ikemura and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021. / Photo: Jörg von Bruchhausen.

A new solo exhibition of Leiko Ikemura at Galerie Karsten Greve in Cologne, Germany.

Opening on Friday, 5 November 2021, 11:00–20:00.

The artist will be present.


Galerie Karsten Greve is delighted to present LEIKO IKEMURA a.ï.r.e in Cologne, a solo exhibition to coincide with the 2021 edition of ART COLOGNE. The collaboration between Leiko Ikemura and Galerie Karsten Greve began in 1987 with a solo show in the gallery's former Cologne exhibition space in Wallrafplatz. Since then, this exceptional artist's distinctive oeuvre which features painting, sculpture, drawing as well as photography, has consistently been presented at all gallery locations – Cologne, Paris, formerly Milan, and, since 1999, St. Moritz –in twenty solo exhibitions to date and regular accrochages.

The current exhibition marks a new phase in Leiko Ikemura's artistic work. Around twenty paintings from the past eight years, ten watercolors created in 2018, and photographic works from 2020 are on display. The focus of the exhibition, both in form and content, is on overcoming boundaries: "What I'm trying to do now," says the artist, "is to cross the border, to go into the picture, into the other world. ..." Leiko Ikemura's characteristic horizon paintings and cosmic landscapes, which run like a leitmotif through her work, are dissolved in the latest works, transforming into a new form of abstraction, opening up a freedom of imagination for the observer thanks to their depth.

The sources of Leiko Ikemura's artistic inspiration can be found, for instance, in the artist's curriculum vitae. She chose the Spanish exhibition title a.ï.r.e (air) as a reference to her initial situation as an artist in Spain, where she met the world's most famous painters and became acquainted with the medieval art heritage of the Iberian Peninsula. She first experimented with translucent tempera in Spain. Her deliberate choice of the "unprocessed" quality of jute or canvas as a painting support is part of her artistic creations. The fabric structure penetrates to the surface and enters into an exciting relationship with the elements of the composition – which has largely been executed in highly diluted translucent tempera paint. At the same time, Leiko Ikemura uses the term a.ï.r.e both playfully and pictorially: "One of the new works was entitled Air. ... However, this English word wasn't really appropriate for my feeling. And then I thought about aïre with the two dots because there are many dissolving elements and dotted lines in my recent paintings. So I took a more playful approach. This is how I came up with a.ï.r.e, with lots of dots. The work is in the title. The title itself is like one of my latest works."

In this exhibition, Leiko Ikemura also crosses the boundaries of the two-dimensional. On display are new ceramics and two transparent glass sculptures, Butterfly out of Face (2021) and Usagi with Wings (2021). Transparency and translucency lend a new aspect to sculptural solidity. Another piece on show is the bronze Usagi Kannon (2012–2017), the fifth from a small edition of five bronzes, each of which develop a unique character through patination and painting. The hybrid creature with the erect long ears rests on a large skirt that is open at the front, comparable to the Christian Virgin of Mercy. This well-known piece and her new works see Leiko Ikemura create a unique synthesis between Japanese and Western European culture.


Source: press release & Galerie Karsten Greve


Galerie Karsten Greve Köln
Drususgasse 1-5
50667 Cologne