photo basel in conversation with Yoko Ikeda, ALPA award winner 2018
What project are you currently working on?
I don’t make my work in the form of different series. I work with the desire to create a new world on photographic paper while being conscious of the ambiguity of visual sensation and the camera’s functions, and being attentive to composition, the shape of things, and the combination of colors. I would say I have been making a sequence of works in a single theme (=project). On a practical level, I will hold a solo exhibition at a gallery in Japan next spring and I am working on publishing a small photo book in the US.
What's the last show that you saw and impressed you?
It’s the exhibition of Pierre Bonnard that is currently held at The National Art Center, Tokyo. Actually I am a big fan of Bonnard and I am fascinated by his unique composition and delicate color usage. I really enjoy the feeling of lost dimension in his work. In Japan we haven’t had an opportunity to see large number of Bonnard’s works all at once, so it is a precious opportunity to know the whole body of his work. I want to revisit the exhibition twice at least.
What's your favourite place to see art?
I like seeing art taking my time at museums. It is really exciting to encounter fabulous art works accidentally while travelling. I also appreciate the buildings of museums. It is a happy moment to see art works in beautiful circumstances, and art works resonating with the exhibition space. In Japan, I like to visit Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, and overseas Dia:Beacon (NY, USA), The Menil Collection (Houston, TX, USA), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherland). Unfortunately it is difficult to visit museums overseas many times, though. I recently visited Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris and I enjoyed the exquisite combination of old things and contemporary art in this small museum.
What's the most indispensable item in your studio?
First of all, my camera and color negative films. The enlarger and the enlarging lenses, and the processor are necessary items since I do printing by myself up to 20x24inch size.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I think I can get inspirations from everything I see in everyday life. Appearance of shape, color of things changes by light and angle. Even if I don’t have a camera with me, I always try to be conscious of it. I believe the accumulation of that consciousness will help me when I shoot. Appreciating art at museums also gives me ideas for installation. And reading books related artists inspires me a lot.
Which other photographer has / has had an impact on you and why?
Toshio Shibata. He is a mentor to me. I have been studying the attitude as an artist and practical things (such as the way of handling prints, etc.) from him. He studied oil painting and printmaking at a university of arts and knows other artistic mediums. He has created photographic works of art since the times photography was not particularly recognized as art. So I suppose he has been strongly conscious of how he should engage in his own work.
What's the first artwork you ever sold?
A small B&W print picturing trees. I used to do B&W before.
Do you have an active role in developing your photos? Do you prefer working with the same fine art printer?
I do print by myself up to 20x24inch size, but I order lager size prints at a laboratory in Tokyo. The printer understands a delicate nuance of color and my preference. I am grateful for that.
What's the last great book you have read?
‘Cézanne’ by Joachim Gasquet. The author is a poet and his poetic phrasing was very difficult for me. But Gasquet heard the stories directly from Cézanne and it is important to know the words of the artist himself. I was able to understand how he engaged himself in his work and how he established new and unique expressions, and the story encouraged me very much.
What does winning the first photo basel ALPA Award mean to you?
I received my first award, The 32nd Higashikawa New Photographer Award, in 2016. This award allowed me to feel that I was recognized as a photographer in Japan.
It was also a delightful surprise that I received The 1st ALPA AWARD this year. At the sudden news of the award a mysterious feeling that fortuitous power was acting caught me. I have been greatly encouraged by knowing that there are people who appreciate my work abroad where few people know about my work. Being the first recipient of the award is very special and a great honor. And I also feel a responsibility to continue creating good works for the award in future.
Which movement has influenced your body of work the most?
I learned about Abstract Expressionism in my school days and I came to like Pollock, Rothko, etc. Then, I became interested in Impressionism and Post Impressionism that are the origins of Abstract Expressionism. Currently I am inspired by the artists of the Nabis School from the point of view of Flatness.
What international art destination do you most want to visit? (museum/institution or even place)
There are many museums in the world I’ve never been to and I would like to visit. I really want to revisit The Menil Collection in Houston if I have an opportunity, as I didn’t have enough time to see it leisurely.
Who's your favourite artist (photographer and/or non-photographer)?
James Turrell, Richard Serra and Peter Fischli & David Weiss
about the artist
Throughout her career, photographer Yoko Ikeda has been finding poetry in the prosaic, and mystery in the mundane. Her photographs serve to form an imaginary world, loosely based on commonplace subjects. Working mostly in Japan, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States and, she has created images both ominous and inviting, uncanny in their ability to coax the unexpected from the known.
Yoko Ikeda was born in Kanazawa City (Japan), and studied at the Research Department of the Tokyo College of Photography. She now lives and works in Tokyo.
Yoko Ikeda’s work was exhibited by Ibasho Gallery at photo basel 2018 where she won the first ever ALPA award.
about the ALPA Award
In cooperation with the Swiss camera manufacturer ALPA® as well as a private collector from Zürich, photo basel introduced a new purchase award for the best artist at photo basel, the ALPA AWARD 2018.
photo basel and ALPA are proud to announce the Japanese Photographer Yoko Ikeda as the first recipient of the photo basel "ALPA Award 2018".
This is the first year the ALPA AWARD is presented to an outstanding photographer, but it is intended as a reoccuring feature of photo basel.
Yoko Ikeda, The ALPA AWARD winner 2018, was announced at photo basel 2018 and one work will be purchased from the gallery representing the artist by the private collector. In addition, ALPA® presents a cash prize or ALPA® camera system to the winning photographer.
The photo basel ALPA award is featured in the Financial Times - read the article here