Throughout her career, Yayoi Kusama has developed a unique and diverse body of highly personal work that connects themes around the natural world, human cognition, and personal mythology. Continuing to address the twin themes of cosmic infinity and personal obsession, the works in this exhibition are testament to an artist at the height of her powers. Marking her first show in several years at Victoria Miro in London, the exhibition showcases Kusama’s relentless drive to express the most abstract of personal feelings.
At the center of the show is a new installation, My Eternal Soul, featuring a series of paintings in the lower gallery that introduce new and recent examples drawn from the artist’s highly celebrated, ongoing series, first started in 2009. These works, at once bold and intensely detailed and conveying extraordinary vitality, are joyfully improvisatory, fluid and highly instinctual. Rendered in bold colors and executed in bright, staid brushstrokes, the works are a fascinating study of space and color, using simple dot motifs and counteracting fields of paint to arrive at powerful, dense visual fields. Creating a feeling of constant movement while refusing the viewer an easy vantage point towards the face or the understanding of a human perspective, Kusama suspends her viewers in a state of uncertainty, carrying them deep into the work. Distilled within Kusama’s My Eternal Soul paintings are the themes and obsessions that characterize her art, encapsulating a surreal and humorous, as well as instinctual approach to art making. Each new work of the ongoing series abounds with imagery including eyes, faces in profile and other more indeterminate forms, often in pulsating combinations of color. Some appear psychedelically primordial, while others bring to mind ancient landscapes and grand geological patterns.
Installed alongside the paintings are a series of new soft sculptures. They have been a key tenet of Kusama’s oeuvre since the early 1960s, pre-empting many famous examples from that decade and inspiring many others subsequently. The sculptures on view appear as though Kusama’s signature stylistic marks have been released from the canvases they are surrounded by and have organized themselves into three-dimensional forms. Taking her work as material, these objects bear the same aesthetic into the three-dimensional world, inviting the viewer into Kusama’s visual and psychological space in the same way that her iconic Infinity Rooms seek to do.
The show also features a series of new pumpking sculptures by the artist. It closes July 31st.
– D. Creahan
Yayoi Kusama: I Want Your Tears to Flow with the Words I Wrote [Victoria Miro]