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Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist, the definitive queen of polka dots. We all have in mind her colorful polka dot pumpkins.
At 88 years old she is a true rockstar of art, to visit her exhibitions you have to wait in line for crazy amount of time and tickets are always sold out in a few hours.
Colors, flowers, polka dots covered everything but her most fascinating and immersive works are the Infinite Mirror rooms she has been working on since 1963 when she moved from Japan to New York where she quickly established her reputation as a leader in the avant-garde and against Vietnam war. She returned to Tokyo in the ’70s, since 1977 she lives for personal choice in a psychiatric hospital from which she goes out every day to go to paint and work in her studio. Art for her is truly a therapy, the unique way to salvation.
The Infinite Mirror rooms are installations, cubes entirely covered with mirrors in which you enter, very few at a time, sometimes even alone, and you find yourself completely surrounded by her art. Lights, pumpkins, colors, polka dots, there are many variations but everyone who enters in the Infinite Mirror rooms reports a strong emotion.
Last summer I finally had the chance to visit one of the Yayoi Kusama’s installation in Los Angeles, at the wonderful The Broad Museum. This is what I wrote on Facebook right after the visit:
“The queue to visit it was impressive, even for the (temporary) presence of the Infinite Mirrored room by Yayoi Kusama, the famous 88-year-old Japanese artist famous for her polka dot pumpkins. Kusama defines art as her medicine, since she was a child she suffers from mental disorders and hallucinations, since 1977, by personal choice, she lives in Tokyo in a psychiatric hospital. Art and pattern repetition help her maintain mental balance. Her Infinite mirrors rooms “enclose” the infinite, this in particular, “The souls of millions of light years away”, allows you to make a special experience, a jump among the stars. It is an immersive installation, a room entirely covered with mirrors, with a water floor and where LED lights are reflected infinity. A truly exciting experience!”
We had to book tickets online months before (the museum sold 50,000 tickets for the Infinite Mirrors rooms in the first hour of sale) and this has not saved us from a waiting line of about two hours. The experience inside the room lasts very little, but inside, once the door behind you is closed, time expands like space. “The souls of millions of light years away” for me is her most beautiful Infinite Mirror room, here you experience the universe, I can not describe it better. In a moment you feel projected between the stars and you have the intuition of how we are small things in the infinite.
This room has been used in the TV series Netflix OA and also in La La Land movie in the scenes where they dance among the stars at the Griffith Observatory.
The Yayoi Kusama’s installations are always on tour in the main museums of the world. Here’s where you can find them in 2018:
to February 11: Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
to February 25: Yayoi Kusama Museum, Tokyo
3 March – 27 May: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
7 July – 30 September: Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
18 November – 17 February 2019: High Museum of Art, Atlanta
To see them again in Europe, we will probably have to wait for 2019!