It is often said that Leiko Ikemura's work is characterized by the encounter of two cultures: it references Western art history, but the themes and formal vocabulary also immerse the beholder in the Japanese tradition, which venerates asymmetry, incompleteness, and ambiguity. "Imagination is the strongest force in my work", says the artist, and it is precisely this exercise of completing something with one's imagination that enables the viewer to enter into a dialogue with the Western tradition, which is oriented towards limits, an avoidance of ambiguity, and symmetry.
In her art, Ikemura attempts to elude rational control and to immerse herself and the beholder in sensual and emotional experience. The viewer seems to fine himself in a kind of intermediate world, in horizontal landscapes with visually unlimited pictorial spaces, or in cosmic landscapes whose forms may be interpreted anthropomorphically - human creatures take on the shapes of animals, or trees or rocks metamorphose into human faces. The transitions are always fluid - in painting and sculpture, in landscape and in human portrayals.
Leiko Ikemura was born in Tsu, Japan. She studied Spanish Literature in Osaka and continued her studies after emigrating to Spain. From 1973 to 1978 she devoted herself to painting at the art academy in Seville. From 1979 to 1983 she lived in Switzerland, and since 1985 she has lived in Cologne. In 1983 the Bonner Kunstverein organized the first solo show of her work, which has been followed by numerous exhibitions at internationally renowned institutions. In 2009 Ikemura received the August-Macke Prize from the city of Meschede. In 2014 she was awarded the Cologne Fine Art Prize, Ikemura's work is included in prominent collections worldwide, including the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Kunshaus Zurich, Kinstmuseum Bonn, the Erzbischoflichen Kunstmuseum KOLUMBA in Cologne, Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein in Vaduz. Leiko Ikemura lives and works in Cologne and Berlin, where she has held the position of professor at the Universitat de Kunste since 1991.