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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Georg Kolbe Museum shows Leiko Ikemura with Witty Witches | 21.01.-01.05.2023

Editors’ Choice

Leiko Ikemura is an internationally renowned artist whose work spans the genres of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and poetry. At the centre of her work is an exploration of nature, the theme of femininity and the cyclical rhythm of life and death. In her solo exhibition at the Georg Kolbe Museum, the artist, who has lived in Berlin since 1990, presents hybrid beings in flux between growth and decay and questions forms of human existence.

Fig. above: Lying Head, 2020-21, © Leiko Ikemura und VG Bild-Kunst, Foto Jörg von Bruchhausen

The exhibition is primarily dedicated to Ikemura’s sculptural work. The show features more than 30 sculptures and selected paintings and drawings since the 1990s, including numerous recent works. Her works in ceramics, bronze and glass testify to her multifaceted engagement with the traditions of sculpture and its materialities. Coloured surfaces and a sculptural language that oscillates between form and dissolution of form are typical elements of Ikemura’s work, which brings Western European and East Asian cultures into conversation with each other.

The exhibition title Witty Witches refers in a subversive and humorous way to the attractive and at the same time deterrent power inherent in the creatures created by Ikemura and now populating the museum. In this, she brings landscape and man together in her figurative sculptures: Figures that transform into trees, personified animal forms and heads that grow out of the earth show her ideal of a fusion of nature. The hybrid fantasy beings are always in a state of transition.

Ikemura also shows the process of transformation in her exploration of human development. Melancholic-looking girl figures that seem cocooned are in an open, amorphous formation due to missing body parts. Her work Memento Mori I describes a conclusion of existential change: a reclining ghost figure, dressed in an open garment, gives visitors an insight into the inner emptiness of corporeality and brings the theme of transience into focus. The work is accompanied by a poetic film projection entitled Pink Hair.

Liegende in Kirschrot, 1997, © Leiko Ikemura und VG Bild-Kunst, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen

In recent years, the artist has expanded her repertoire of materials to include solid glass, thus introducing the possibility of transparency into her sculptures. As a symbol of the cycle of life, the artist groups glass works (2020-2022) in a circle in the basement, which glow as if from within depending on the incidence of light. Accompanied by paintings that also take up the theme of coloured luminosity, Leiko Ikemura thus creates a cosmic atmosphere.

Japanese-born Ikemura shows a utopian representation of protection and care in her famous Usagi works, which were created in response to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima: Three rabbit figures in the exhibition represent alternative guardian spirits according to Shintōist ideas. Usagi double-headed Hoshi, the title of one work, combines the Japanese word for rabbit (Usagi) with the word for star (Hoshi). The size and posture additionally refer to the Christian iconography of the Mother of God offering protection under her mantle. The usagi open up a spiritual dimension in Ikemura’s work and also represent a universal symbolic figure of compassion.

Leiko Ikemura extends the exhibition space into the sculpture garden of the Georg Kolbe Museum. There, the connection of her art to nature can be experienced through the positioning of two works with striking bronze patination between the sculptures of the museum’s collection. At the entrance to the Georg Kolbe Museum, visitors are greeted by the three-metre-high Rabbit Column III (2021) – a work that, in its combination of architectural element and organic form, points the way like a totem into the cosmos of the exhibition and Leiko Ikemura.

Curator:
Elisabeth Heymer, research assistant at the Georg Kolbe Museum

About the artist:
Leiko Ikemura, born in Japan, has lived in Europe since 1972, initially in Spain and Switzerland, until she settled in Cologne in the mid-1980s and in Berlin in 1990. Ikemura studied Spanish literature at Osaka University and then painting at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes in Seville. From 1990 to 2016, she held a professorship at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. Numerous international exhibitions have been dedicated to her work at renowned institutions, including MOMAT – The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2011), the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne (2015), the Kunstmuseum Basel (2019) and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich (2021).

Highlights of the supporting programme:

Curator tours
09 February and 30 March 2023, 6:00 pm

Winter holiday workshop
Hybrid beings – between humans and animals. Experiments with paint on paper
30 January to 02 February 2023, 10:00 to 14:00 each day
with Sarah Steiner
in cooperation with Jugend im Museum e.V.

Drawing Course for Adults
31 January, 14 February, 28 February, 14 March, 28 March, 11 April and 25 April 2023
each 18:00 to 20:00
with Janna de Haen
Tickets

Easter holiday workshop
Headless figures – eerie and dreamy. Modelling heads and figures
03 to 06 April 2023, 10:00 to 14:00 each day
with Sarah Steiner
in cooperation with Jugend im Museum e.V.

The dates for a reading in cooperation with Missy Magazine and an artist talk in the course of the catalogue publication will be announced online at a later date.

A performance will take place on the closing weekend of the exhibition.

WHEN?

The opening will take place at 6 p.m., and at 7 p.m. Dr. Kathleen Reinhardt (Director of the Georg Kolbe Museum), Elisabeth Heymer (Curator of the exhibition) and Udo Kittelmann (Artistic Director Museum Frieder Burda) will welcome you. The artist will be present.

Duration of the exhibition: 21 January to 01 May 2023

WHERE?

Sensburger Allee 25, 14055 Berlin

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