Leiko Ikemura was born in Tsu, Japan, and lives and works in Berlin and Cologne.
She moved to Europe in 1973, studying art at the University of Seville and spending several years in Switzerland, where she developed her iconic expressive drawings and large-format paintings in the early ‘80s. In 1983 she received the artist residency grant Stadtzeichnerin von Nürnberg from the city of Nuremberg and Faber-Castell, and in 1985 the artist moved first to Cologne and then to Berlin, where she began lecturing at the Universität der Künste in 1991.
In the mid ‘90s, Leiko Ikemura became known for her girl-like figures in paintings, drawings and sculptures, and during the past decades she has focused on monumental cosmic landscapes that explore transition as a metaphysical principle and draw on both European and Japanese cultural references. The various themes she tackles include her concern for our planet: human beings and nature merge, as in her head sculptures showing hybrid creatures with a human face but little trees instead of ears.
An extensive retrospective of her work was staged at the National Art Center in Tokyo and the Kunstmuseum Basel in 2019. Her most important solo exhibitions include Leiko Ikemura – Usagi in Wonderland at the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Art, Norwich, UK, opening July 2021, Leiko Ikemura. Poetics of Form at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, 2016, Leiko Ikemura. All about Girls and Tigers, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne, 2015, Leiko Ikemura: Transfiguration at The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, 2011. Her art has been exhibited in Europe, United States, Asia and Australia.