To Infinity and Beyond

Yayoi Kusama is one of the most exciting and prolific artists working today. With a practice encompassing performance, film-making, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, fashion, poetry, fiction and public spectacles (or ‘happenings’) over some 60 years, this leading Japanese practitioner has been widely acknowledged as a major influence on several generations of contemporary artists.

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016.  Photo by Tomoaki Makino.  Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016. Photo by Tomoaki Makino. Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama

A luminary in the cultural sphere, she became the first woman to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and was named one of the most influential people by Time magazine in 2016. Born in 1929, the artist spent her youth near her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. At nineteen, after having worked at a parachute factory during World War II, she left home for Kyoto, where she studied the traditional Japanese style of painting known as Nihonga. While there, she also began experimenting with abstraction, but it was not until she arrived in the United States, in 1957, that her career took off. Living in New York from 1958 to 1973, Kusama participated in avant-garde circles while honing her signature polka dot and net motifs, developing soft sculpture, creating installation-based works, and staging Happenings—performance-based works—around the city. The artist moved back to Japan in 1973 and, over the years, she has attained cult status, not only as an artist, but as a novelist.

Little bears discovered one of Yayoi Kusama’s stunning Infinity Mirror Rooms at GOMA and now they will happily travel half way around the world to experience an Infinity Mirror Room again!

GOMA - Yayoi Kusama, Soul under the moon, 2002. Mirrors, ultra violet lights, water, plastic, nylon thread, timber, synthetic polymer paint.
GOMA 2015 – Yayoi Kusama, Soul under the moon, 2002. Mirrors, ultra violet lights, water, plastic, nylon thread, timber, synthetic polymer paint.

How about experiencing six infinity rooms in the same exhibition?!? Organized by the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors will embark on the most significant North American tour of the artist’s work in nearly two decades. The Hirshhorn’s exhibition is the first to focus on the infinity mirror rooms and will present six of the rooms, the most ever shown together. From peep-show-like chambers to multimedia installations, each of these kaleidoscopic environments offers the chance to step into an illusion of infinite space. The Infinity Mirror Rooms will be on show alongside two large-scale installations and key paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013. Wood, metal, mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water. Collection of The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Installed in I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013. Wood, metal, mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water. Collection of The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Installed in I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots, 2007. Interior view of large balloon dome with mirror room. Installation: Suspended vinyl balloons, large balloon dome with mirror room, peep-in mirror dome, and projected digital video. Mirror room dome height: 156 in. (396.2 cm); diameter: 234 in. (594.4 cm). Peep dome diameter: 78 in. (198.1 cm). Installed in Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2007
Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots, 2007. Interior view of large balloon dome with mirror room. Installation: Suspended vinyl balloons, large balloon dome with mirror room, peep-in mirror dome, and projected digital video. Mirror room dome height: 156 in. (396.2 cm); diameter: 234 in. (594.4 cm). Peep dome diameter: 78 in. (198.1 cm). Installed in Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2007
Yayoi Kusama, Installation view of Infinity Mirrored Room—Love Forever, 1994, in My Solitary Way to Death, Fuji Television Gallery, 1994. Wood, mirrors, metal, and lightbulbs. Collection of Ota Fine Arts. © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Installation view of Infinity Mirrored Room—Love Forever, 1994, in My Solitary Way to Death, Fuji Television Gallery, 1994. Wood, mirrors, metal, and lightbulbs. Collection of Ota Fine Arts. © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Installation view of Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, in Floor Show, Castellane Gallery, New York, 1965.  Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. ©
Yayoi Kusama, Installation view of Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, in Floor Show, Castellane Gallery, New York, 1965. Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. ©
Yayoi Kusama, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009. Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, black glass, and aluminum. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009. Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, black glass, and aluminum. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016. Wood, mirror, plastic, black glass, LED  Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016. Wood, mirror, plastic, black glass, LED Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama

Kusama began using mirrors in 1965 when she produced Infinity Mirror Room — Phalli’s Field, transforming the intense repetition of her earlier two-dimensional works into a perceptual experience. Over the course of her career, Yayoi Kusama has produced more than twenty distinct Infinity Mirror Rooms. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors traces the development of Kusama’s iconic installations alongside a selection of her other key artworks. The show highlights the artist’s central themes, such as the celebration life and its aftermath, and aims to reveal the significance of these installations amidst today’s renewed interest in experiential practices and virtual spaces.

Following its Washington, DC, debut, the show will travel to five major museums in the United States and Canada. Little bears have to patiently wait for the exhibition to reach the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2018. Hopefully they will be distracted by other adventures in the meantime, patience is not their strongest virtue!

GOMA - Yayoi Kusama, Flowers that bloom at midnight, 2011
GOMA 2015 – Yayoi Kusama, Flowers that bloom at midnight, 2011

They can distract themselves with a visit to MONA to see Dot Obsessions.

'Dot Obsessions - Tasmania' is featured in the exhibition 'On the Origins of Art', at MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (5 November 2016 - 17 April 2017)
‘Dot Obsessions – Tasmania’ is featured in the exhibition ‘On the Origins of Art’, at MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (5 November 2016 – 17 April 2017)

The National Art Center Tokyo will showcase YAYOI KUSAMA: My Eternal Soul from 22 February to 22 May and
National Gallery Singapore will showcase YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the heart of a rainbow from 9 June to 3 September, the first large-scale survey of Kusama’s work in Southeast Asia, including Infinity Rooms.

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