Leiko Ikemura I Philipp von Matt – Asuka 飛鳥

September 25 -  October 23, 2010 

With "Asuka 飛鳥" we are pleased to present the first artistic collaboration between Leiko Ikemura and Philipp von Matt at Loock Galerie.

"Asuka is the name given by Leiko Ikemura to a series of mainly small-format paintings which contain allusions to objects such as ships and aeroplanes. The name has a long tradition which goes back to the origins of Japanese culture. Rendered in the most common Japanese script as 飛鳥 , Asuka means 'flying bird'. Yet the name has a number of different meanings, ..."

The Asuka period (in Japanese 飛鳥 Asuka jidai) began in 552; in the 150 years it lasted, decisive developments took place in all realms of Japanese culture. "By naming her series of paintings thus, Leiko Ikemura places the works on a semantic horizon which juxtaposes initial and concluding phases of the historical formation of Japanese cultural and political identity. An oscillation develops between text and image, between the verbal transmission of how national identity originated and the visual intimation of a war which signalled a provisional end to this cultural history. It is not necessary to know the titles of individual works – Marine, Pacific Ocean, Warship, Hikari (Light) – to realise that they concern battles between the USA and Japan in World War II; this becomes clear from the figurative references to ships, aeroplanes and the lights given off by missiles at night. We can experience both the grievance about the horrors of war and grief for the loss of a blooming culture, but only to the degree that the act of painting itself conveys these emotions. This process takes place up against a subject which itself cannot be represented: war, (...)" "Can painting confront war? (...). The subject matter remains unresolved due to the non-identical nature of painting, but by using painterly means it is touched, encircled, addressed and passed on – as an invitation to reflect."

Excerpts: Wilfried Dickhoff, Asuka, 2010


Serving as the inspiration for Ikemura’s Asuka cycle, Philipp von Matt’s photography bridges the way to her painting, and places the ambivalent mobile in context by interlinking it. Von Matt approaches the figure of the mobile from the perspective of an architect; instead of being a mere hanging construction as the support of the actual meaning, the sculptural mobile here has a purpose all its own and generates tension in the space with its minimalistic structure.


Leiko Ikemura, born in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, Japan, has held a professorship at Berlin’s UdK since 1991. The artist’s work is exhibited at Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, KOLUMBA archbishopic museum of art, Cologne, Kunstmuseum Bern, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. She was the winner of the August-Macke-Preis 2009. The artist lives and works in Berlin and Cologne.


Philipp von Matt, born in the Swiss town of Stans, has worked with several fellow architects, including Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel. In Berlin, he participated in the realization of the Daimler Benz Project at Potsdamer Platz in the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and later as a partner of PRvM GmbH directed the planning of the new construction of the Canandian Embassy on Leipziger Platz. Recently, he has worked with and advised Leiko Ikemura in several exhibition projects, for example at National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Langen Foundation Hombroich and numerous other museum and gallery exhibitions.


The exhibition is accompanied by the book ASUKA which is published at Verlag Wilfried Dickhoff.