Yasumitsu Ikoma was born in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan in 1956. In his younger days he liked to make things and wanted to be a carpenter. Then he became interested in painting. When he was a junior high school student he was shocked to see a Rembrandt exhibition.
He finished the oil painting course in Musashino Fine Arts University, Tokyo and subsequently its Graduate School Master course. When he was at school, he was attracted by the work of Alberto Giacometti for some time. He studied the techniques of Western classic paintings and painted in a realistic style. After graduation he taught at high school as a part-time teacher for one year and worked as a full-time teacher at the school for handicapped children.
At that time he learned about Spanish painters like Antonio Lopez Garcia, Eduardo Naranjo and Jose Hernandez. He wanted to study the Spanish culture in which they were born. He quit working at the school for handicapped children after two years and a half. He went to Spain in 1985.
First he lived in Madrid, where he frequently visited the Prado Museum and galleries. During Easter time he traveled to Granada where he was interested in the cemetery. He then moved to Granada. He went to the cemetery to draw the bones left on the slope behind the cemetery. He was strongly impressed to see a pretty flower blooming at an opening in the lap of the bones. That experience suggested to him an idea as follows: Corruption follows one’s death along with the destruction of individuality. It suggests the generation of fresh life. The world consists of diverse lives. Life as an individual also consists of various elements of the world. Life cycles forever. Living things die and become the soil. That soil become nourishment to grow new life.
That circulation repeats. In the East there is a concept called samsara, which overlaps his idea. At that time he realized that idea, which became his significant theme in making his works.
The media he has used in his paintings are as follows: Mainly oil in his twenties, egg tempera and oil in his thirties and mainly acrylic after his forties.
He returned to Japan in 1987. Since then he has been a professor at Kyoto Seika University. He has shown his paintings numerous times at Nikikai Group exhibitions as a member. He has also shown in solo and other group exhibitions.
C’est la providence qui a fait tomber le regard de François-Yves Grand sur des images de la peinture de Yasumitsu Ikoma. Ebloui par cette figuration assez peu conforme à l’esthétique japonaise, François-Yves Grand se précipite à Kyoto, pour mieux connaître l’artiste et lui proposer d’exposer en France. En suivront quelques expositions à succès à Macon, à Paris et à Lille, qui en font un peintre plus prophète en France qu’en son pays…
Enfant, Yasumitsu Ikoma voulait être charpentier. Il aimait dessiner. Et puis il a visité une exposition Rembrandt qui l’a totalement bouleversé. Et puis il a aussi vu Vélasquez, Goya,Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh, les impresssionistes etc…
Il dit dessiner d’une façon très “réaliste”, qu’il “ne rêve pas des sujets” et qu’il “transpose” seulement des souvenirs. Il dit que ce qui a aussi nourri son réalisme, c’est son expérience auprès d’handicapés mentaux, ” dans un lieu fermé qui était un pays à part entière…”
Et l’on comprend mieux alors, comment ces voyages dans les profondeurs de l’humain, ont permis à l’artiste d’accéder à ces visions d’éblouissantes sur-réalités ou de fascinantes irréalités, et de construire, en associant ses talents de peintre et de charpentier des âmes, ces fabuleux Jardins des Délices et ces somptueuses Cités des Merveilles parfaitement intemporelles et remplies de personnages d’une mythologie personnelle qui rejoint l’universel.