Artwork of the month October/November

Leiko Ikemura, Usagi Kannon, 2012/14

Leiko Ikemura

* 1951 in Tsu / Mie, Japan, lives and works in Berlin

Usagi Kannon, 2012/14

Bronze, patinated
340 × 159 × 138 cm
Ed. 1 / 5
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz


"In this figure I wanted to merge the language of form with poetry", says Japanese-born Leiko Ikemura, who studied Spanish literature in Osaka and Salamanca before she began studying painting in Seville. Painterly aspects are also palpable in her sculptural work, for example the great care with which she chooses the appropriate patina for her sculptures. The different lifeworlds of Asia and Europe define her entire artistic practice.

This synthesis of cultures is also illustrated by Ikemura's sculpture Usagi Kannon as a hybrid of human and animal. The title of the piece combines the Japanese word for rabbit (usagi) and the name of a well-known Bodhisattva being in Buddhism (Kannon). Bodhisattvas are mediator beings who seek to help people and all sentient beings achieve enlightenment. The arm position of this sculpture on the other hand is reminiscent of Christian iconography. Against this background, the work opens up many interpretations, very much as intended by Leiko Ikemura.

Following the Buddhist idea of body and sheath, the body is also formally rendered as a sheath in Usagi Kannon. Like a protective cloak, the tapered opening serves as an entrance. Along a strict vertical line, the viewer's eye is directed from the open, finely perforated mantle-like lower body to the more compact upper body. The face appears serious and sad. The arms are pressed firmly to the chest.

Usagi Kannon means protective goddess. The larger-than-life sculpture, 340 cm high, offers space for security and shelter. Leiko Ikemura created this form as a reaction to the tsu- nami disaster in Fukushima in 2011. It represents a monument to the devastating conse- quences for nature, the animal world and people, a place for understanding and mourning.

Robin Hemmer, Barbara Wagner


"It is about bringing together different ways of thinking, it is about the universal. "

Leiko Ikemura

<b>Leiko Ikemura, Usagi Kannon, 2012/14</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.