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  • Leiko Ikemura: Witty witches and hybrid humans


Leiko Ikemura: Witty witches and hybrid humans

Currently on at the Georg Kolbe Museum, Leiko Ikemura's Witty Witches examines the transience of adolescence through otherworldly and childlike forms. ★★

Exhibition view at Georg Kolbe Museum, Leiko Ikemura © Leiko Ikemura & VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2022, Georg Kolbe Museum, Photo: Enric Duch

In an exhibition almost exclusively focused on the sculptural works of the well-known Berlin-based artist, you’ll likely to be familiar with Leiko Ikemura’s “usagi” hares, with their perforated dresses and hybrid human animal faces.

There’s a huge one in the atrium, standing bolt upright with long rabbit ears and looking as though it just walked out of a children’s fairytale book. Ikemura’s practice blends Japanese eastern and western sculptural traditions, exploring the transience of adolescence and the pressures on being both a foreigner and a woman.

Transformation can feel a touch humdrum in the hands of Ikemura

She’s at her best with earlier works like Leaning on the Eyes, an ambiguous scene as the arms of a young girl disappear (hideously) through her own eye sockets. This flower-like sculpture is somewhat ruined by the decorative round base she’s placed upon – a bed of fine white gravel beneath another sculpture is a further low point.

Downstairs, more recent experiments with glass show the wonderful translucence of the material. It’s a notoriously difficult material to work with and she achieves a delightful openness when she gets it right, at times the sculptural forms feel a bit prosaic and dull. On the evidence of this show, transformation can feel a touch humdrum in the hands of Ikemura.

  • Georg Kolbe Museum, Sensburger Allee 25, Westend, through 01.05.23. Get more information here.