I was first introduced to celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in 2011 when I wandered through her polka dot-adorned exhibit entitled Mirrored Years in Sydney, Australia. I’ll never forget winding my way through a sea of soft foamy water monster tentacles as a frantic mother with a thick Aussie accent screamed at her children, “place the dot stickers on the wall not your faces!”
Yayoi Kusama’s story has captivated audiences around the world for decades. The 88 year old reclusive artist has lived mostly in a psychiatric institution for the past 50 years, while her famed immersive works travel around the globe offering curious guests an opportunity to create a dialogue around mental illness and its impact on art.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a media preview for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. The AGO’s exhibition provides visitors with the unique opportunity to experience six of Kusama’s most iconic kaleidoscopic environments at once, alongside fantastical installations and key paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present. It also marks the North American debut of numerous new works by the prolific artist, who is still actively creating in her Tokyo studio. These include large-scale, vibrantly coloured paintings and the recently realized infinity room, All the Eternal Love I have for Pumpkins, featuring dozens of her signature bright yellow, dotted pumpkins.
The blockbuster Infinity Mirrors officially opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario on March 3. For those excitedly sitting on the edge of their seats, here’s a preview of my ten fave moments as I walked through the magical mind of Yayoi Kusama.
Visitors are greeted by this stunning portrait of Kusama as they arrive into the ticketing queue.
Guests begin their tour by taking an elevator up to the first exhibition hall and are greeted by a choir of playful sea monster arms entitled Life (Repetitive Vision).
This soft sculpture duo are simply titled Blue Spots and Red Stripes, and are made of stuffed cotton, kapok and wood.
The first room of the exhibit is entitled Phalli’s Field. Take a selfie with an endless ocean of polka dot penises.
Tiny LED lights flicker in Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity.
Love Forever is an installation that allows guests to peak inside a room through a square window rather than fully immersing yourself by stepping through a door.
Step into The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and you’ll feel as though you’re floating through outer space.
The artists most recent work is entitled All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, and will be a thrill for anyone who has a penchant for sweet squash.
Just before arriving in the final room of the show guests can stroll along a wall which displays a collection of the artists paintings and alien-like sculptures.
Just before arriving in the gift shop visitors finish their tour in The Obliteration Room. Guests are given a card filled with colourful stickers and are encouraged to make their own mark on the exhibit by placing them anywhere in the white washed space.