In 2017, the hashtag #InfiniteKusama reached 91 million Twitter and Instagram accounts following a record-breaking exhibition at The Smithsonian, Washington DC. Over a career spanning nearly seven decades, Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) has continually connected with a global audience, garnering worldwide acclaim from the late 1940s into the digital age. In 2014, she was named the world’s most popular practitioner. This autumn, an exhibition at Victoria Miro, London, showcases new paintings, sculptures and installations by Japan’s best-known living artist.
An interest in repetition – which is reflected in her works and a prolific following on social media – defines Kusama’s expansive oeuvre. This fascination is demonstrated through the iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms, which envelop audiences in an endless space. Victoria Miro’s show debuts one such piece, within which colourful paper lanterns are suspended from the ceiling. The immersive environment creates an interplay between the mirrors and a signature polka dot pattern, offering a sense of boundless imagination.
The journey to inner worlds continues through Kusama’s recurring pumpkin motif. Taking inspiration from her childhood – during which the family cultivated plant seeds – her sculptures and paintings explore the boundaries between nature and playful artifice. Pieces on view include new bronze three-dimensional works, which are painted in vivid reds, yellows and greens. Adorned with patterns of black dots, they play with notions of geometry, transforming the organic forms into bold icons.
Despite this exuberant aesthetic, Kusama’s work is also instilled with a poignant spirituality. She recalls: “I would confront the spirit of the pumpkin, forgetting everything else and concentrating my mind entirely upon the form before me. Just as Bodhidharma spent ten years facing a stone wall, I spent as much as a month facing a single pumpkin. I regretted even having to take time to sleep.”
In a similar way, large-scale flower sculptures – also covered in polka dot patterns – traverse pop aesthetics and ecological sensibility. Displayed outdoors, these oversized, bold and unapologetically synthetic objects occupy the intersection between biological and inanimate, encouraging viewers to consider them in 360 degrees.
From 3 October. Find out more here.
1. Dots Obsession–Love Transformed into Dots, 2007.
2. Infinity Mirrored Room–All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016.
3.Yayoi Kusama, Longing for Eternity (2017). © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York.
4. Yayoi Kusama, “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” 2009. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama