Yayoi Kusama, Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin (2010). All images via Gagosian Gallery.
Following a solemn exhibition of black and white photographs by Gregory Crewdson at the Gagosian Gallery Rome is a psychedelic installation of recent works by Yayoi Kusama, on view now through May 7th. Five bold canvases, including two self portraits, are hung in the main gallery. Around the floor’s perimeter are dozens of highly polished and reflective chrome balls that are a later incarnation of a piece Kusama presented at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 (though back then she was not invited to do so).
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A hollow cast aluminum pumpkin with holes that expose a red interior sits in an adjacent gallery whose walls are painted red and hung with circular convex mirrors. The pairing creates the immersive patterned and reflected environment for which Kusama is known, albeit in a somewhat tamer variation on the theme.
A similar affect is achieved by a cube shaped sculpture in the main gallery. Its chrome surface reflects the gallery’s contents, and when one looks into one of its several holes a dazzling multiplicity of reflections greets the eye.
The paintings on view are related to the sculptural work in their obsessive musing on the themes of infinity and nothingness. The canvasses are covered in imagery, namely dots and nets, that comes directly from the artist’s own hallucinations. Composed of brightly and densely patterned blocks, the two self portraits on view are poignant illustrations of Kusama’s struggle with mental illness, which has been both documented in and alleviated by her art.
Yayoi Kusama at Gagosian Gallery [Gagosian Gallery]