London – Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro through July 30, 2016

June 27th, 2016

Kusama Chandelier
Yayoi Kusama, Chandelier of Grief (2016). All images via Victoria Miro.

Now through July 30th, Victoria Miro in London is presenting new works by Yayoi Kusama, spanning the gallery’s three locations and waterside garden across the British capital.  The work featured here was created exclusively for this show, including the artist’s iconic pumpkin sculptures, immersive mirror rooms, and her ongoing My Eternal Soul series. Across the work exhibited, the artist’s ongoing investment in themes of the infinite and the sublime is explicit.

Kusama Eternal Love
Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016)

The 87-year old Kusama is notorious for her incredible obsession with detail and repetition.  Much of the imagery she has become known for over the course her prolific career was inspired by visions she has experienced since childhood. Thus, Kusama’s work circulates across the world through a representation of the most intimate corners of the artist’s mind.  Today, she is recognized as one of the most important figures in contemporary art, and has achieved notoriety for her success as a Japanese woman artist working in Western, male-dominated society.

Kusama Eternal Love2
Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016).

Kusama’s preoccupation with repetition and patterns harnesses a sense of the infinite, represented across all her works.  At the Wharf Road location, three immersive mirror rooms have been installed. All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins, Chandelier of Grief, and Where the Lights in My Heart Go invite the viewer to contemplate infinity while surrounded by it through the repeated visual feedback system created inside.  The repetition of images and objects, created in the reflection of these mirrors, creates an all-encompassing and dizzying experience, suggestive of a vaguely overwhelming hallucinatory experience.  All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins places the viewer in the middle of Kusama’s own sense of “eternal love,” a sea of her signature polka-dotted pumpkin lamps.  The experience is strictly solitary—only two people are allowed in to the mirror rooms at a time—transforming the viewing experience into an intimate encounter with one’s own reflection, consumed by a sea of pumpkins.

Kusama Installation
Yayoi Kusama (Exhibition View)
Kusama Where the Lights
Yayoi Kusama, Where the Lights in my Heart Go (2016).

Accompanying these mirror rooms is a series of works on canvas, reflecting Kusama’s enduring fascination with repeating polka dots and her scalloped, Infinity Net patterns.  The artist has described this pattern of obsessive repetition as “a form of active self-obliteration,” stemming from visions she has been experiencing since childhood.  In relation to these immersive mirror rooms, her paintings seem to offer a more detached viewing experience of the infinite.

This ambitious and expansive exhibition represents the most recent contributions of Kusama’s impressive and hugely important career.  It closes July 30th.

—A. Corrigan

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Victoria Miro]
Artist’s Page [Victoria Miro]
“Yayoi Kusama” [TimeOut London]