Leiko Ikemura — Mountains in Exile


Ceramic, drawing, painting

Leiko Ikemura
Mountains in Exile

Past: March 11 → April 30, 2016

The Galerie Karsten Greve presents Mountains in Exile, a new solo exhibition by Japanese artist Leiko Ikemura. Listing more than forty works and presented in parallel with the Ceramix exhibition De Rodin à Schütte, which may be seen at La Maison Rouge and the Cité de la Céramique de Sèvres, this artistic promenade aims at highlighting the diversity of mediums employed. Bronze, terracotta, pastel on paper and oil on burlap are all techniques used by the artist.

The works on canvas invite the viewer to contemplation, offering a panorama of the Japanese countryside, while the sculptures in terracotta exalt a singular imagination, making particular reference to the intimate and the religious. Eminently poetic, suspended between the real and the ineffable imaginary, works by Leiko Ikemura are not without meaning and iconographic references.

The mountain is a recurring element in the artist’s paintings and drawings. Whether they are camouflaged by a thick fog or presented in the background in a bright atmosphere, they are the central subject of Ikemura’s compositions. Considered the original home of creation, the mountain symbolises the victory of life over death. The latter is also reflected in the artist’s sculptural practice with the work Memento Mori (2013) in particular.

After a figurative period, Ikemura began to devote herself to sculpture around 1984 to finally reinvent her painting from the mid-1990s. In these new paintings and works on paper, created between 2013 and 2015, she focuses mainly on the theme of Nature, while her sculptures and anthropomorphic ceramics celebrate the ever-evolving human figure. There are however no airtight compartments in Leiko Ikemura’s work, and the border between these universes is often tenuous or porous, evidenced especially by works such as Naked (2014), Tree and Blue Face (2014) or Mishima (2014) where man merges with nature.

The series of trees, made with tempera on burlap, recalls some of the work of Odilon Redon, notably in the use of a restricted, non-imitative colour palette. Red, grey and ochre bring dramatic touches to the compositions, in contrast to the meditative Japanese landscapes. A symbol of life par excellence, the tree is shown here in an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty.


Born in 1951 in Tsu Japan, Leiko Ikemura has lived in Europe for more than fifty years. After completing language studies at the University of Osaka and after spending seven years in Spain where she studied art, she moved to Switzerland where she obtained citizenship. Since 1985, she has lived and worked in Cologne and Berlin, and since 1991, has taught at the School of Fine Arts in Berlin. The internationally recognised work of Leiko Ikemura has been exhibited in prestigious museums and is part of numerous private and public collections such as The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Linz Kunstmuseum in Austria, and the Basel Kunstmuseum in Switzerland, the Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf and the Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum. She was awarded the Cologne Fine Art Prize in 2014.

  • Opening Friday, March 11, 2016 6 PM → 8 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

5, rue Debelleyme

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 77 19 37 — F. 01 42 77 05 58

Official website

Filles du Calvaire

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 7 PM

The artist

  • Leiko Ikemura