Hisae Ikenaga

Artist selected by Torrente, Virginia at 2010
More artist content updated at 2016

Hisae Ikenaga’s work uses everyday objects she has altered to give different meanings and uses. She has worked on several different series, looking at areas such as the confrontation between industrial materials and arts and crafts, humanising objects, the globalisation of objects and possible genetic anomalies in mass-produced objects.

Irony and absurdity consistently play a key role in her work.


1. What made you choose art as a profession?
As a girl I loved drawing and was fully supported by my parents. My mother used to take me and my brothers and sisters to the museums in Mexico City. When I arrived at the Department of Fine Art, I realised I was already familiar with the work of lots of artists thanks to those early visits with my mother, which had left an indelible mark on my mind. At university, many of my lecturers were artists and I worked as assistant to some of them. I also did work experience in museums helping set up exhibitions and managed to meet a number of leading artists in person. Thanks to all this experience, when I left university I had a more or less clear idea of what it was like to be an artist and I decided that was what I wanted to – which was also fairly logical after studying Fine Art.

2. How would you define your work?
I’ve often been told that my work is ironic, in that I use objects in very different ways to what they were designed for. I do this to question things that happen around me using everyday objects as tools.

3. What subjects are you interested in?
I’ve produced lots of very different pieces, but they all centre on objects: I’ve looked at mass-produced objects and distance production and explored the possibility of their taking on ‘human’ features, manufacturing anomalies, etc. In short, I’m interested in talking about humans’ relationship with objects and trying to give them a life of their own.

4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
When I’m talking about an object I usually use the object itself – produced by someone else and altered by me.

5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
I like to work with everyday objects, even ones I find on the street. These objects form part of my daily life and have a meaning for me – and, as common objects, I think they have a meaning for other people as well.

6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
To ask questions. And offer opinions.

7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I like the fact that my work can be understood without having to give a detailed explanation. However, I’m aware that I’m aiming at people with some notion of contemporary art.

8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Mexico after spending a year at the University of Art and Design in Kyoto. Later I took a postgraduate course in Barcelona and a Master’s Degree at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. What I value most from my education is that my teachers were young, active artists who were eager to share their experiences. This gave me a glimpse at what an artist’s professional life was really like.

9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
I’ve reached a stage when I’ve got a clear way of working and a series of well-defined processes. I know what I want to get across in my work and I think I need to continue in this line. I’d like to carry on working on the same subjects, but in projects that are wider in scope in different places in the world.

10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work?
Do you think this has a bearing on your work? It’s not easy to make a living from your work, but it’s not impossible. It’s a challenge and a good exercise to try are produce work using the bare minimum and then work with other kinds of media or less accessible processes.

11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators? What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships?
I expect a cordial and professional relationship. I’ve known good and bad promoters and curators and can safely say that if they both do their job well it makes the artist’s job a lot easier.

12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
I think there’s a lot of institutional support for artists in Madrid, which is not the case elsewhere. In addition, savings banks and some private foundations also make considerable effort in this area. Thanks to this support, many Madrid-based artists can travel and experience other realities, which is always enriching for their work.



Curriculum vitae

Hisae Ikenaga
México D.F., 1977.
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid.

Formación Académica/Education

Máster de Teoría y Práctica de las Artes Plásticas Contemporáneas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


Postgrado Homeless Beauty, Universidad de Barcelona.


Intercambio, Universidad de Arte y Diseño de Kyoto.


Licenciatura, Escuela Nacional de Pintura Escultura y Grabado La Esmeralda, México D.F.


Exposiciones Individuales (Selección)/Selected Solo Exhibitions
Ambiguous situations, Praxis International Art, New York.
Sistema métrico Campo de fútbol, Abierto X Obras, Matadero Madrid, Madrid.
Concreciones, 3+1 Arte Contemporánea Lisboa, Portugal.


Los inútiles, La Eriza, Madrid.
Encontrados, Intervenciones en casa, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.
Sistema métrico/ Malformaciones, Galería Formato Cómodo, Madrid.
Manufacturing Flaws, Praxis Gallery, Miami.


Manufacturing Flaws, Praxis International Art, New York; Praxis Gallery, New York.
Objetos perdidos, Galería Formato Cómodo, Madrid.


Vaivén, Instituto de México en España, Madrid. TURN OVER, Mehr Gallery, New York.
TURN OVER, Mehr Gallery, N.Y. E.E.U.U



Múltiple apetecible, Galería Garash, México D.F.


Estándar, Galería de La Esmeralda Centro Nacional de las Artes, México D.F.


Every Day Signs/Signos cotidianos, Prinz Gallery, Kyoto.


Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección)/Selected Group Exhibitions
Volta Art fair, Basilea, Feria MACO México DF y ARCO con Galería Formato Cómodo.
Selva de Cristal, Museo del Chopo, México D.F.


Sobrestructuras, OTR, Madrid.
Feria ZONA MACO, México D.F., VOLTA Art fair, Basilea y ARCO con Galería Formato Cómodo.


La vida en este lado, Galería Espacio Líquido, Gijón, España.
Insert Coin; Spanish contemporary art, Para/Site Art Space Hong Kong.
Scope Art Show, Basel con Formato Cómodo.
2da Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Pulse Art Fair NY y Pinta Art Fair NY con Praxis Interntional Art.
Hecho a mano, Galería Casas Riegner, Bogotá.
Where the wild things grow, Praxis gallery, New York.
Located Work, colaboración con Joseph Kosuth, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.
Generación 2008, La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Valladolid; Valencia; Barcelona; Sevilla.
Informed by Function, Lehman College Art Gallery, New York.
Elefante Negro, Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli, México D.F.


Creación InJuve 2007, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; Lima; Montevideo; Rosario, Argentina.


Becas y Premios/Awards and Grants

Generación 2008, Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid. (1er Premio/1st Award)


Bienal de Móstoles, Ayuntamiento de Móstoles, Madrid. (Adquisición/Acquisition)
Creación InJuve 2007, Instituto de la Juventud, Madrid. (Accésit/2nd Prize)


Propuestas 2006, Fundación Arte y Derecho, VEGAP, Madrid. (Beca/Grant)


Residencia artística, Hangar, Barcelona, Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, FONCA. (Beca/Grant)


Máster en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Beca de la Colección Jumex, México D.F. (Beca/Grant)
Máster en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Beca para estudios en el extranjero del INBA, Instituto nacional de Bellas Artes, México D.F. (Beca/Grant)


Posgrado en la Universidad de Barcelona, Beca de la Colección Jumex, México D.F. (Beca/Grant)


1era Bienal de Arte Tridimensional de Azcapotzalco, Delegación Azcapotzalco, México. (Premio Adquisición Categoría de Instalación/Acquisition Award)


Universidad de Artes y Diseño de Kyoto, CENART, México D.F. (Premio para la Especialización de estudios en el Extranjero/Award for study specialization abroad)


Obra en Museos y Colecciones/Works in Museum and Collections
Colección Cristina Gadea y Rodrigo Autric, Madrid.
Obra Social Caja Madrid.
Ayuntamiento de Móstoles, Madrid.
Delegación Azcapotzalco, México D.F.
Colección Casa Serra, México D.F.


Catálogo MART, selección de artistas emergentes para nuevos coleccionistas 2008, México D.F, Fundación Murrieta, Ed. Cuarta Pared, 2008, Cat. Exp.
"Generación 2008. Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid", Madrid, Obra Social Caja Madrid, 2008, Cat. Exp.
"Joseph Kosuth Located Work (Madrid)", Madrid, La Casa Encendida, Obra Social Caja Madrid, Madrid, Ed. La Casa Encendida and Joseph Kosuth, 2008, Cat. Exp.
Hontoria, Javier, "Hisae Ikenaga, productora de ironías", El Cultural, El Mundo, 1/V/2008.
Blas, Susana, "Instrucciones para adentrarse en la obra de Hisae Ikenaga", Muestra de Artes Visuales Creación InJuve 2007, Madrid, InJuve, Cat. Exp.
Landa, Isabel, "Vaivén de objetos globalizado", El País, 30/IV/2007.




Galería Formato Cómodo, Madrid


Praxis International Art, New York