YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY MIRRORS
March 3 – May 27, 2018
Information about the artist and the exhibit are taken from Art Gallery of Ontario website. All photos and opinions are mine.
Guided by her unique vision and unparalleled creativity, critically acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama has been breaking new ground for more than six decades. In 1993, she became the first woman to have a solo presentation at the Venice Biennale’s Japanese Pavilion, and in 2016, Time magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people.
Born in 1929, Kusama grew up near her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. At nineteen, following World War II, she went to Kyoto to study the traditional Japanese style of painting known as Nihonga. During this time, she 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 moved in avant-garde circles with such figures as Andy Warhol and Allan Kaprow while honing her signature dot and net motifs, developing soft sculpture, creating installation-based works, and staging Happenings (performance-based events). She first used the mirror as a multi-reflective device in Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, transforming the intense repetition that marked some of her earlier works into an immersive experience. Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 but has continued to develop her mirrored installations, and over the years, she has attained cult status, not only as an artist, but as a novelist.
Experience infinity: From her immersive infinity rooms to mesmerizing paintings and playful sculptures, Yayoi Kusama welcomes you to participate in her extraordinary and innovative explorations of time and space.
Infinity may be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is easy to contemplate when you step inside one of artist Yayoi Kusama’s iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms in the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. Rich with key works from the contemporary Japanese artist’s significant 65-year career, this major exhibition also shows the evolution of her immersive, multi-reflective installations, in which she invites you to share in her unique vision.
Immerse yourself in six of these kaleidoscopic environments where you will be endlessly reflected within fantastic landscapes. You’ll also see Kusama’s mesmerizing and intimate drawings, her early Infinity Net paintings in which nets organically expand along the surface of a canvas like cell formations, and her surreal sculptural objects. These key works join more than 90 works on view, including large and vibrant paintings, sculptures, works on paper, as well as rare archival materials.
The 88-year-old artist continues to work at a brisk pace in her Tokyo studio. The exhibition features the North American debut of numerous new works. Her most recent painting series, My Eternal Soul (2009–present), may be the greatest surprise. Exuberant in colour and paired with sculptures that bear titles such as My Adolescence in Bloom, they mark a striking progression in the use of Kusama’s signature symbol of the polka dot. Also on view in North America for the first time is the recently realized Infinity Mirror Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 , a field of yellow, dotted pumpkins spreading into infinity.
In addition to the paintings, sculptures, drawings and environments, viewers will encounter posters, letters, cards, and invitations that relate to Kusama’s early exhibitions and events—including her first solo show, which took place in Seattle—a slideshow of Kusama’s performances as well as an interview with the artist filmed on the occasion of this exhibition.
I do not consider myself to be an expert in any art, but Infinity Mirrors by Kusama made me think about how the art has evolved over the years with the world. Lights, mirrors, stuffed tubers, lanterns, and big polka dot balls wouldn’t seem to be such appealing art objects were they not presented in small rooms, in which only few people are admitted at a time, and what a short time it is! Twenty to thirty seconds with an art installation is barely enough to make an impression of it, less so to take a selfie. And this is what it’s been, really – people rushing to see Infinity Mirrors only to post their moving and still photos on Snapchat and Instagram, feeding to the popularity of the exhibit.
The lack of supply increases the value of the product. People, myself included, are willing to stand in lines to each little room for the sake of spending less than a minute inside a kaleidoscopic environment. It is crazy when you think about it.
One of my favourites was the only room where we were not allowed to take pictures. And that was “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” – those pumpkins were gorgeous. And now I want a nightlamp shaped as one.
The last installation was a simple white room that invites the audience to deface it – it was fun but did not feel new or original enough. Although seeing how high up some visitors were willing to go was fun on its own.
My dots are hiding somewhere here, invisible among all others.
“Infinity Mirrors” really stretched my depth perception. One room had flashing lights. The polka dots hurt my eyes when I was trying to edit the photos. This exhibit was a sensory overload – so, I suggest you proceed with caution if you do not do well with that. My constant fear was – since in every room except for the last one, we were either in the dark or on a narrow catwalk – that I might lose balance and fall into the art.
Would I have become a part of the exhibit?
May 17, 2018