Mayumi Ikejiri (illustrator)
The central theme of Mayumi Ikejiri’s art is love. Not just family love, or romance, but the force that brought us into being and gave rise to the earth and to the cosmos. To her, art is about the fun of living life, but it’s also a form of prayer, and an expression of love for all.
Mayumi was born in Hyogo Prefecture, where she was raised in close proximity to nature. Her mother, who saw imagination as a vital asset, read to her from picture books before she started to talk, and also gave her crayons to play with and taught her origami. When she was nine, her father, a traditional man, had her study waka, a traditional form of poetry. This gave her the chance to internalize this literary art form’s rhythms and its particular perspective on the world. From twelve to twenty, she cultivated a respect and thankfulness for life through the rigorous practice of kendo. Thereafter she found employment at Kikkoman, but her health failed and she resigned.
A series of poems she wrote out of a desire to give something back to the world in return for all its human kindness and all the things that keep us alive was selected, from 80,000 entries, and recognized for its ability to “give people a fresh sense of excitement.” She was inspired to try painting as a means of expression after reading an essay by Quintus Horatius Flaccus, in which he compares poetry to painting.
In 2013 she retired and began hand-painting with pastels. Since 2014 her work has been on permanent display at a gallery in Berlin. The same year, she joined the Japanese Contemporary Artists Team of New York.
By using a unique technique that integrates cosmic hemp charcoal, natural stonedust from jewels like ruby, turquoise, and lapis lazuli, and floral essences directly into her pastels, and through her primitive method of painting with her fingers, Mayumi’s art attains a deeply stirring animalism.
In 2016, her art intersected with computer technology for the first time, when she created a piece using the modern printmaking technique called giclée for exhibition in the art division of Japan Festival Berlin. Her piece was an attempt to bridge the gap between two distant moments in the history of art.
Without any formal training, Mayumi Ikejiri has remained active as an artist by overcoming barriers of time and circumstance and creating a signature brand of commanding artwork that serves as a conduit for love and thankfulness.