9 March – 16 June 2013


Leiko Ikemura is an internationally active artist who has spent the last thirty years creating an extensive oeuvre as a painter, sculptor, and draughtswoman. The Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe’s exhibition ‘Leiko Ikemura i-migration’ features some 140 artworks and places the spotlight on the Japanese-Swiss artist’s more recent work, which has been inspired by contemporary events.

Leiko Ikemura found her style in the mid-1990s and has never looked back since, depicting nameless
figures shrouded in thought, ghostlike beings and unearthly landscapes, in which the line of the horizon acts as the threshold to infinite space. Ikemura’s figures inhabit an elementary world of light and colour, land and sea. Shadowy landscape forms are construed as anthropomorphic shapes, faces and rocks merge into hybrid images of nature. Ikemura’s art constitutes an attempt to break down our rational
constraints and escape the scores of images that surge in on us each day, leaving us to instead trust our intuition. As the artist says: “Eyes are dubious organs that shut themselves off from the world without us noticing…” She thus challenges us to shut our eyes and dive into the images inside us.

Born and raised in Japan, Ikemura decided to move to Europe as a young student, living first in Spain, then in Switzerland, before finally settling in Germany. Her time is spent between Cologne and Berlin. The particular charm of Ikemura’s art has often been explained as arising from the encounter between two cultures, from a sense of otherness, from a different, non-Western and thus non-dualistic understanding of the individual and space. The artist largely foregoes depicting the individual in the typical Western manner as clearly separate from his or her surroundings. Her figures are not fixed and wholly distinct forms, they are not expressions of some inherent individuality. Underpinned by a different concept of the world, Ikemura’s art points to a life before the separation of subject and object, and to an imaginary place viewed in the surmounting of the subjective-objective dichotomy.

The exhibition covers new ground in Ikemura’s oeuvre, by presenting her previously unseen watercolour series ‘Artists Popes & Terrorists’ from 2008, her ‘Contemporary Faces Mexican’, as well as the Asuka
series, inspired by war images from 1941. In these more recent series, Ikemura draws from concrete events and images culled from the media and from art, adding a new and surprising dimension to her work.


Curator: Pia Müller-Tamm

Assistant: Sonja Maria Krämer

 Exhibition design: Philipp von Matt

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, released by Hatje Cantz, including texts by Renate Berger,Andreas Beyer, Sonja Maria Krämer, and Pia Müller-Tamm, priced €35.

The exhibition is sponsored by