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Quick Insight Vol.6 Arouses obsession by power of artworks A Guide to Understand Mysterious Artist IKU→

There is not much information available on IKU→; her biography on TRiCERA ART says: It is not open to the public.
Online, the information is fragmented and scattered.
Even when you try to connect the dots, the uniqueness of IKU→’s works gradually becomes more evident than her personal background.
IKU→’s history as an artist is diverse. After working as a contract artist for a gallery in New York, IKU returned to Japan and started working as an artist Khaya (Hebrew for “living”).  In 2019, IKU→participated in the art exhibition “INVISIBLE ART IN PUBLIC” held at SHIBUYA CAST. IKU→ was in charge of the key visuals. In November of 2020, IKU→ changed name from Khaya to IKU→(which also means to live, to go and hope). Currently, TRiCERA is sending out IKU→’s works to the world.


(INVISIBLE ART IN PUBLIC, KDDI, Shibuya City Tourism Association, Shibuya Future Design, 2019)


IKU→, who consistently paints “faces,” usually doesn’t talk about IKU’s self, but the expressions IKU paints vividly with acrylic paint seem to have the power to speak to and influence the hearts of those who see them.

(The following is an excerpt from a comment from a purchaser of one of IKU→’s works)
“It’s like when an unshakable conviction arises Like when you find something to protect. It’s like when you’re touched by true love. It’s like when you find the meaning of your life. I am filled with a sense of happiness as if I heard the voice of a deep and quiet prayer. I am filled with a sense of happiness.”
In this issue of QuickInsight, we will be interviewing IKU→, a mysterious artist who fascinates fans with the power of works.

1.How did you become an artist, IKU→?

I’ve always been unable to write down my dreams for the future. I always thought it was boring.  I used to write my name or something like that as a job title. But I decided to be a fashion designer because I didn’t have any clothes I wanted to wear. So I studied fashion. I started making my own clothes in kindergarten, and in elementary school, I made my own clothes. I think I was quite unique in the eyes of the people around me. When I learned about the reality of the fashion world, I realized that this is how it really is. I naturally began to draw and experiment with things that I had loved since I was a child. I was drawn to the fun of art and before I knew it, I had moved to New York. I was inspired by Yoko Ono’s performance art, Grapefruit. I went to New York and the first thing I did was go to an exhibition. I didn’t have a business in mind at all. I just wanted people who didn’t know me to feel what I felt, so I started. Then I was approached and asked if I wanted to buy a painting or sign a contract. I had no idea what I was doing, so I turned them down. Then they got mad at me. “Not everyone has a chance at NYC. You were chosen and you’re crazy! What did you come to NTC for? ” we battled quite a bit lol. But my answer didn’t change and we talked and tried again the next day. I told her that I didn’t really like the work that wasn’t my exhibit. I started with showing the works that I didn’t really like and showed them to him, but he didn’t respond. Then the response got bigger and bigger as I have shown works that I liked , he reacted the most when I showed  the work that I love the most and  he told me that he doesn’t want to let go of the work.. When I heard that, I gave in and became an artist naturally.
(Ripe month, Acrylic, 65cm x 89cm x 2cm, IKU→, 2021)

Click here for Artwork Detail

2.I noticed that you use faces as a motif in many of your works. Was there a reason why you chose the face?

I’ve always wanted to meet myself. It’s the only thing I can’t do. It’s the only thing you can’t do, and you can’t even see them face to face. It’s not something simple, it’s something amazing. It’s really strange, but everyone reacts to that face first, even if it’s not human. We are aware of it and give it priority. Your body, your face, is not the same every day. The face is an organ. There are always small changes. The face is something that we take for granted and recognize. But the face is something we can’t grasp, something that seems to exist but doesn’t. Even the recognition of the face can’t be summed up in one word. I’ve always been interested in space, biology, and anything that doesn’t have a connection to me. I’m going to create various faces in the future.

( butterfly, Acrylic, 65cm x 76cm x 2cm, IKU→, 2021)

Click here for Artwork Detail

3.I think you had a contract with a gallery in NYC. Please tell us about the influences you had at this time, and how you developed your style.

I don’t know many artists in New York because I’m told not to be influenced by them. I work every day! I often went to galleries and museums, but I really didn’t have enough time. The speed is different from Japan. In New York, I didn’t only do paintings. I was also doing installations. I was very much influenced by RENT on Broadway. I went to see it many times. But I always had a large and small sketchbook with me, and I would draw people’s momentary movements. Even when I’m on the subway, listening to music, or reading a book, I fantasize by myself, and I’m not passive. I can create new things. Oh. I was shocked to see that someone jacked up the Guggenheim and secretly displayed a small piece of work there. I’ve always had doubts about absolute things, like apples being red or skin being fair. I was always different from everyone else. My grandfather taught me about Kazuo Shiraga, and I still look up to him. I also respect Yoko Ono, Martin Margiela and Shunji Iwai.

( Electric shock, Acrylic, 65cm x 76cm x 2cm, IKU→, 2021)

Click here for Artwork Detail

4.What is the theme that you focus on the most?

It’s a real experience. I get my ideas from real experiences. It’s too much for words. The energy is overwhelmingly strong. It’s instinctual, wild, and untrue. The face is created by choosing colors from the emotions of the moment and layering or eliminating them. For me, art is like breathing in everyday life. It’s about creating with your whole being, without compromise. So if I lose my focus, I leave immediately. I don’t want to add anything strange. This is why I feel embarrassed when people feel my work, as if they can see right through me. I believe that the work is completed when it is handed over to the receiver, because it cannot be completed by the creator alone. It makes me happy to see the mutual connection between artworks that have been passed on.

( palm, Acrylic, 93cm x 140cm x 2cm, IKU→, 2021)

Click Here for Artwork Detail


IKU→ says that she didn’t expect to become an artist at first,
but after requests from those around IKU→
She says that the “faces” she draws depict the truth of her ever-changing perception of “self.

IKU→ also says that such moments are connected to the truth of the viewer,
and that in this relationship It is her happiness that new truths are born in these relationships.
This is her happiness and the driving force behind her creation.

“IKU→ says, “The truth about myself is depicted in my paintings.
For IKU→, her works are her very self.
That’s why she doesn’t actively write about her career and background on the front page.

Perhaps the process of gathering such missing information is another way to enjoy IKU→’s works.
The mysterious background that makes us curious about her.
The mysterious backgrounds that make us curious, and the concepts that
give us an opportunity to search for our “true selves,”
there are many ways to enjoy IKU’s works.

What kind of truth will you create when you stare at IKU’s works?
We can’t take our eyes off the “faces” IKU→ draws in the future.


IKU Biography
Not disclosed

Concept of the work
"I wanted to meet myself.
But I can't meet myself because I am myself.
But my work is my alter ego.
I mainly draw people's faces.
This is because it is the only part of my body that I cannot see directly.
In addition, the face is seen differently depending on the emotions of myself and others at that moment.
At what moment do we see the true face?
What is a face really?
I'm also interested in time.
A moment in time can also be expressed with a face.
The style of my work changes every time.
It has to do with time."

Click here for the artist’s page

The works featured here are available for purchase at TRiCERA!

Soichiro Masudahttps://www.tricera.net/
CMO / ArtCLip Editor-in-Chief

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