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Hisae Ikenaga 

(Mexico, b. 1977)


Hisea Ikenaga was born in Mexico City to a Japanese father and a Mexican mother. Her father arrived in Mexico in the 1960s from the city of Hita-shi in the Ōita Prefecture, which he left at age 20 to see the world. Her mother, always mindful that her children be aware of their Japanese heritage, introduced Ikenaga and her siblings to the large Japanese colony in Mexico.

Ikenaga finished her bachelor’s degree at Mexico’s Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado (also known as La Esmeralda) in 2002, having studied also at the University of Art and Design of Kyoto in Japan in 2000 as part of a student exchange program. She holds a master’s degree in Theory and Practice in Contemporary Art from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2004).  

Ikenaga's conceptual artwork uses aspects of performance, installation, sculpture, and photography to explore the tensions between the quotidian meanings of objects in everyday life and the absurdities and ambiguities that these meanings can hold. Her concepts are realized through the artful manipulation of everyday behaviors and objects such as furniture, rulers, golf balls, and phone books. 

As part of her student exchange program in Japan, Ikenaga developed a project in which she selected everyday objects that were strikingly different from ones she had known in Mexico and reproduced them using different materials, creating new, transformed versions which she displayed in a gallery. This exercise allowed Ikenaga to contrast the primarily industrial nature of Japanese commodities with the more artisanal production of objects in Mexico. Personally, she does not prefer one over the other; as an artist obsessed with objects and their meanings, she has sought, through this contrast, to illustrate the balance she feels between the two cultures, especially regarding their influence on her artistic production. 

Ikenaga divides her time between Madrid and France while exhibiting her work extensively around the world. She participated in the exhibition Crystal Jungle (2011) at the Museo Universitario de Chopo, which included a diverse group of Japanese artists living in Mexico as well as Mexican artists descended from Japanese families.

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