“By using lights and their reflection, I want to show the cosmic image beyond the world where we live. Each mirrored room is mysterious and amazing. It gives us the sense of the infinite existence of electronic polka-dots.” – Yayoi Kusama
Vivid yellows and bright reds jump at you as you enter Victoria Miro’s Wharf Road residence. A series of polka dots adorn two large painted pumpkin sculptures in the distance and dance before your eyes as you turn to walk up a set of steep stairs that eventually lead to Kusama’s famed Infinity Mirrored Room.
Being Yayoi Kusama’s twelfth exhibition at the gallery, the London public is no stranger to the artist’s work. Uncovering the themes of cosmic infinity and personal obsession, Kusama’s gamma of paintings, sculptures and interactive rooms have continuously dazzled and staggered visitors, while her repetition of patterns (e.g. polka dots) and motifs (e.g. the pumpkin form) allow us to travel back in time with her when she began to experience the terrifying hallucinations and obsessive thoughts that have come to shape a large part of her artistic practice.
THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT INTO THE UNIVERSE is comprised of four main elements, the first being the Pumpkins in the lower gallery, which have come to represent one of the key aspects of Kusama’s creative traditions, personifying growth and fertility as well as symbolising the comfort of a childhood memory. Speaking to Kusama “of the joy of living,” the exhibition features two large pumpkin sculptures that inspire amusement for the audience whilst their dotted patterns add varying depths and curves to the humble palette of red and yellow. Accompanied by new paintings of a similar vibrating energy, colour sequence and dotty form, Gallery 1’s contents are governed by a billowing geometry.
While the presence of Pumpkins may bring you at ease, walking out onto the waterside garden is guaranteed to energise your spirit as you will encounter Kusama’s large Flowers That Speak All About My Heart Given To The Sky. Playful and warm-spirited, these large-scale painted bronze flower sculptures are embellished from all angles, encouraging you to move around them to get the full effect. Gravitating between wild and wondrous, artificial and natural; these flowers, just like the pumpkins, have played a central role in making up Kusama’s fantastical world.
Kusama’s works always possess personal and direct notions, and these themes are exemplified most through her My Eternal Soul paintings that engender a musicality, a fluidity and above all, are littered with imagery taken from her own impressions of microcosms, universes and landscapes that extend beyond one’s imagination.
The exhibition is finally summarised through the debut of Infinity Mirrored Room – My Heart is Dancing Into the Universe, an installation that has made Kusama not only one of the most instagrammed artist’s of all time, but more importantly, one of the most unique, dynamic and instinctual artists of her generation. Blackened mirrors reflect the ever-changing colours of hanging paper-lanterns whose polka-dot surfaces break off the glossy interior into a million pieces. Engulfed in your own private universe for just 60 seconds, this infinity room gives off illusion, transfixes your gaze, plays with your field of vision and mesmerises you into a psychedelic state. Unfortunately, this spectacular immersion is abruptly interrupted as the invigilators hurry your visit to let in the next batch of hungry visitors.
While this exhibition does a great deal in covering Kusama’s overflow of infinite ideas, passions, and obsessions, the instagram-style format of quickly reviewing the star work of the show (i.e. the infinity mirrored room), let alone the long queue before even entering the room, can be detrimental to the visitor’s experience. Given Kusama’s fame, a sold-out show is expected, however, for anyone who is keen to see this exhibition, keep up to date with Victoria Miro’s social media to get information on whether any free slots become available in the near future.
Words by Dominic Lauren