Leiko Ikemura Our Planet - Earth & Stars


We are pleased to present this large-scale solo exhibition by Leiko Ikemura, who has worked extensively in Europe and is widely acclaimed internationally.

Leiko Ikemura went to Spain in the 1970s, then to Switzerland, then since the early 1980s has been active in Germany. Ikemura works in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, prints, and photography. This versatile use of diverse media points to the unique artistic task Ikemura has set for herself, in terms of expressing infinite possibilities still invisible yet latent in the creative process. Through approximately 210 works, this exhibition traces the arc of Ikemura’s determined approach to this seemingly impossible challenge.

Ikemura started painting in earnest while living in Switzerland, then moved to Germany in 1983. At the time painting was dominated by the Neo-Expressionist movement, in which emotions were conveyed through powerful colors and shapes. Ikemura also immersed herself in experimentation with this mode, in fiercely expressive paintings addressing the difficulties of being a woman and a stranger, and drawings with richly varied lines that brim with humor and humanity. After this body of work, since the 1990s she has dealt with themes such as small creatures and innocent girls, mothers and children, human figures merging with trees and mountains, and mythical primeval scenes that evoke birth and death.

Contemporary society, founded on the control and organization of people and nature, is continually being disrupted not only by natural disasters but also by all sorts of human-made calamities such as nuclear accidents. Ikemura’s ephemeral girls floating in empty spaces, mothers with children (a theme rarely depicted directly in contemporary art) and small fantastic hybrid creatures blending into the natural environment, convey a powerful philosophy of acceptance and embrace of the diverse beings born into this world, or to be born in the future, just as they are. The introspective world of her work – quiet, modest, and immersed deeply in its own distinctive vision – is in this sense keenly critical of the world and society surrounding us today. This vision rewards the viewer richly with revelations that only Ikemura can convey with a keen sensitivity nurtured in the very different soils of Japan and Europe.

Her latest large solo exhibition, Leiko Ikemura: Transfiguration was held at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Mie Prefectural Art Museum in 2011, and the artist says that since then she has become more consciously engaged with society. The current exhibition is organized as a group of 16 installations that retrace the trajectory of Ikemura’s unique practice and explorations into the essence of a society in crisis, and deliver the viewer multifaceted vicarious experiences. The climax of the exhibition is a room of large landscape paintings presenting a comprehensive vision of the artist’s recent worldview in expansive, mythical spaces. We think that this exhibition will serve as a portal for many viewers to see into and think about the vast world that lies inside these landscapes.

Date January 18 (Fri.) – April 1 (Mon.), 2019
Closed on Tuesdays
Opening hours 10:00-18:00
*10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
(Last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kunstmuseum Basel
With the support of Embassy of Switzerland in Japan

Admission(tax included)
General 1,000 yen (Adults), 500 yen (College students)
Advance/Group 800 yen (Adults), 300 yen (College students)
  • Free admission on February 24 (Sun.), 2019 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement.
  • Visitors who are under 18, including high school students will be admitted for free.
  • Disabled persons (along with the one assistant) will be admitted for free upon presenting the Disabled Person’s Booklet or an equivalent form of government issued ID.
  • Advance tickets on sale from November 14 (Wed.), 2018 - January 17 (Thu.), 2019.
  • Tickets, both Advance and General, are available through the National Art Center, Tokyo (open days only), ONLINE TICKETS(e-tix), and Lawson Ticket (L code 34610). Service charges may apply. (These services are only available in Japanese.)
  • Group tickets (for groups of a minimum of 20 people) can only be purchased at the National Art Center, Tokyo.
  • Visitors who present a ticket or ticket stub from another exhibition currently underway at the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Suntory Museum or the Mori Art Museum(the three facilities that make up the Roppongi Art Triangle) will be eligible for the group discount.
  • From March 1 (Fri.) to March 31 (Sun.), visitors presenting the 1-Day passport or an entrance receipt for the Art Fair Tokyo 2019 (held at the Tokyo International Forum, March 7-10, 2019), will receive a 200yen discount (valid for General Adults ticket only).
  • Visitors 65 and over(I.D. with proof of age required)who present a ticket stub from Artist Associations’ Exhibition held at the National Art Center, Tokyo during “Leiko Ikemura Our Planet - Earth & Stars” will be admitted to the exhibition at the college student group rate.
  • Students, faculty and staff, of “Campus Members”, can apply for group discounts.
  • Credit card (UC, Master Card, VISA, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club, DISCOVER) , e-cash (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, etc.), iD, J-Debit and Union Pay are available for purchasing tickets.
Inquiries Tel : +81 (0)3-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)

Exhibition Highlights

1. Ikemura’s largest solo exhibition yet

A gallery totaling 2,000 square meters and an outdoor exhibition area will be used to present approximately 210 works. These include works in all the media Ikemura has used thus far, such as painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, printmaking, photography, and video. Ikemura is also an abundantly talented writer. Examples of her poetry will be displayed here and there throughout the venue.

2. 16 installations

The exhibition consists of 16 installations, based on 16 themes that Ikemura has been exploring. A map is to be distributed to viewers to guide them around these installations. The structuring of the show was supervised by the architect Philipp von Matt, who has collaborated with Ikemura many times before.

3. Early drawings and paintings

Ikemura studied at the University of Seville, Faculty of Fine Arts in Spain, moved to Switzerland in 1979 and became fully active as a contemporary artist. This exhibition includes about 40 early drawings and large Expressionist paintings from Switzerland, a significant site of the artist’s development. These early works provide glimpses into the themes that have consistently concerned Ikemura until today.

4. Recent works in a new mode

In recent years, Ikemura’s paintings have once again grown larger. Figures of people and animals melt into these mysterious scenes evocative of traditional East Asian landscape painting. Her latest work, Sinus Spring, is executed in bright, warm colors vividly conveying the thrill of life reawakening during the spring season. We are sure that viewers will enjoy an experience of physical and mental communion with these immersive landscapes filling the spacious gallery.

5. A flow of associated images

In Ikemura’s works, people, animals, trees and mountains shift shapes and there is a repeated process of images flowing into one another. These flexible images seem to change appearance in response to the memories and mental state of the viewer. In this exhibition, viewers will not only vicariously experience Ikemura’s vision but also be able to weave webs of images in their own imaginations.

Exhibition Structure

This exhibition consists of 16 sections, each of which constitutes a separate installation in its own right.

1. Prologue

2. Origin

3. Organic and Inorganic

4. Realm of Drawings

5. Girls

6. Amazon

7. War

8. Usagi Kannon / 10. Garden

9. Mountains

11. Trees

12. Flame

13. Horizon

14. Memento Mori

15. Cosmicscape

16. Epilogue

Related Events

Lecture : The Drawings of Leiko Ikemura

Speaker Anita Haldemann [Head Curator, Department of Prints and Drawings of the
Kunstmuseum Basel]
Date Jan. 18, 2019 (Fri.)
Time 13:30-15:00(doors open at 13:00)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, Lecture Room AB
Capacity Limited to 70

* Admission is free but an exhibition ticket for this exhibition is required (discounted tickets accepted).
* No registration required, first-come, first served basis.
* English/Japanese consecutive interpretation.
* Time and content may change without prior notice.

Special Talk : Leiko Ikemura × Josef Helfenstein [Director, Kunstmuseum Basel]

Date Jan. 18, 2019 (Fri.)
Time 16:00-17:30
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
Capacity Limited to 100

* Admission is free but an exhibition ticket for this exhibition is required (discounted tickets accepted).
* No registration required, first-come, first served basis.
* English/Japanese consecutive interpretation.
* Time and content may change without prior notice.

Meet Usagi Kannon! Special Free Access to the exhibition’s Open-air Exhibition Area

Date & Time March 10 (Sun.), 2019  10:00-18:00 (Last admission 17:30)
Venue Open-air Exhibition Area E (Entrance located next to the Nogizaka ticket booth)

* Access to the Open-air Exhibition Area E is free, but a fee is required to access the exhibition.
* Time and content may change without prior notice.

Exhibited in the Open-air Exhibition Area, Usagi Kannon was created after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and is instilled with Ikemura’s prayers. The artwork can usually be seen from inside the exhibition gallery through the window glass, but exclusively on Sunday, March 10, March 11’s eve, it will be possible to access the Open-air Exhibition Area for free and see the artwork from up close.

Do not forget to also visit Usagi Kannon II, waiting for you inside the exhibition gallery! (*A fee is required to access the exhibition)

On the day of the event, the first 100 visitors of the Leiko Ikemura exhibition will receive a Usagi Kannon postcard at the entrance of the Special Exhibition Gallery 1E.

Leiko Ikemura’s Poetry Reading (in Japanese)

Date & Times March 22, 2019 (Fri.) ①16:00-/ ②17:30- / ③18:30-
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, Special Exhibition Gallery 1E

* Poetry will be read by Leiko Ikemura and guest readers Harumi Kawaguchi (Poet) and Mika Tsuboi (Actress).
* Readers and contents will differ for each reading sessions.
* Each reading session will be approx. 15 minutes long. Readings will be in Japanese only.
* Admission is free but an exhibition ticket for this exhibition is required (discounted tickets accepted).
* Time and content may change without prior notice.
Leiko Ikemura has also been eagerly creating poetry and numerous of her poems are displayed throughout the venue. On the day of the event the artist herself and guest-readers will recite some of Ikemura's poems in the exhibition gallery. Take the chance to enjoy Ikemura's world with your eyes, ears, and whole self!
On the day of the event, please refer to the information-panel at the entrance of the Special Exhibition Gallery 1E for details about the sections where the reading will be recited, etc.

Special Talk : Leiko Ikemura × Tsutomu Mizusawa [Director, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama]

Date Mar. 24, 2019 (Sun.)
Time 15:30~17:00
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F, Auditorium
Capacity Limited to 260
Co-organizer Joshibi University of Art and Design

* Admission is free but an exhibition ticket for this exhibition is required (discounted tickets accepted).
* No registration required, first-come, first served basis.
* Japanese only.
* Time and content may change without prior notice.

Touring Information

This exhibition was organized jointly with the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland. A replication of the Tokyo exhibition is scheduled to travel to the Kunstmuseum Basel in spring and summer 2019.