Tim Van Laere Gallery presents a solo exhibition with new works by Leiko Ikemura

Tim Van Laere Gallery is pleased to present Riding the Waves, a solo exhibition of Leiko Ikemura in which she presents a selection of paintings and sculptures that consider earlier phases of the Japanese artist, as well as recent works. Since leaving Japan in 1972, Ikemura has lived in several European cities. In her substantial œuvre, which she has developed since the 1980s as a sculptor, painter and illustrator, elements of European and Asian art are combined. 

The exhibition demonstrates the connectivity of nature – human, animal, plant or mineral – in an eternal circle of life, death and renewal. The works are always presented in a state of becoming, the pictoral plane’s transition between humans, animals and nature, barely tangible. In her work, Ikemura explores themes of hybridity, cross-culturalism, sexuality, and death. She works at the intersection of abstraction and figuration, shifting fluidly between media, and imbuing her pieces with raw energy and emotion. Ikemura's exotic landscapes emerge from tempera-like washes. Her terra-cotta and bronze sculptures are both feminine and timeless and her unique pictorial language manifests itself in landscapes and figures that summon a sense of loss. Whether she's celebrating the power of the female form or exploring a misty dreamscape, Ikemura achieves a unique synthesis of cultures, traditions, and perceptions in everything she creates. All of Ikemura’s figures seem to exist close to the edges - in some cases literally, as in Sinus Spring (2018), a large triptych that sings off the wall in washes of acid red, tangerine, peacock and mustard. Ghostly female forms float through a sinuous landscape, visually echoing them with both their colors and their fluid shapes. Their bodies lack definitions and boundaries and occupy a liminal space that is part physiognomy, part geology; part presence, part absence. 

Since Leiko Ikemura emerged in the 1970s, she has explored representations of the feminine, focusing on the innocence of childhood and the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Through her girlish figures and hybrid creatures, Ikemura subtly conveys a sense of estrangement and alienation. She asserts that humankind’s intimate relationship with the natural environment and the universe can be a source of solace and comfort. Since the 1990’s the “girls” became an official hallmark in Ikemura’s oeuvre. They elude more precise characterisation, for their facial features and ages remain unspecific. Yet these representations are by no means harmless. Hands digging into eye sockets suggest violent and (self-)destructive impulses. Ikemura deals also with what she calls "mothering" qualities -- life-affirming energies such as the fertile world of our dreams. Here, too, is Ikemura's brand of poesy: the cycle of entering, receiving, accepting and creating anew.

Another important reoccurring motif in Ikemura’s works is the rabbit. Deconstructed shapes of rabbit-ness appear again and again, in sculptures, paintings, and even poems. “Originally “usagi” means rabbit or hare in Japanese, but the word’s meaning goes beyond that.” Says Ikemura. “I emphasise that this word should include all universal beings. It’s about life itself essentially—all circles of life on earth and in the universe. Usagi should become a new terminology for our awareness of all kinds of cosmic beings and our love for them.”

Ikemura is an internationally celebrated, Japanese artist, based in Berlin. Originally from Tsu in Mie Prefecture, Japan, Ikemura studied painting in Seville, Spain before relocating to Switzerland and then Germany. She has won prestigious prizes in Germany, Switzerland and Japan. Ikemura’s work has been presented in the Tokyo Biennale (1988) and the Sharjah Biennal (2001). She has had solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2002); The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2011); and Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel (2019). Her works can be found at, among others, Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich; Kunstmuseum Ahrenshoop, Ahrenshoop; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Museum for Ostasiatische Kunst Köln, Cologne; Neues Museum Nürnberg, Nuremberg; Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. 

Leiko Ikemura
24 February - 2 April, 2022
Tim Van Laere Gallery
Jos Smolderenstraat 50
2000 Antwerp



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