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david ebony's new york top ten

leiko ikemura
at monique knowlton

May 10-June 14, 1996

Leiko Ikemura
White Figure

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   Leiko Ikemura is a young Japanese-born artist who lives in Germany. In the past several years she has participated in a number of New York group shows, presenting her curious ceramic figures that seem like relics from a lost civilization. In this, her first one-person show in the U.S., she presented a selection of ceramic sculptures as well as two small oil paintings on burlap.

While the paintings are not as effective as the sculptures, they give a clear indication of Ikemura's subject matter. Most of the ceramic sculptures are studies of children. Each is a kind of hollow portrait bust, but they have an uncanny aspect due to the extreme distortion of faces, heads and bodies. White Figure, a white-glazed bust, clearly reads as human. It looks like a Nok head from ancient Nigeria. But other figures seem to metamorphose into fantastic creatures. In Cauliflower, a face suggests the lumpy vegetable, while green leaves grow out of the top the head. Some of the figures are decapitated. One of them holds its head in its arms, while another holds a little blue cat.

Ikemura's work is full of surprises. Her subtle modulations of textures, and simple forms are mesmerizing.