Yayoi Kusama – A critical reflection

A while back I met a person who studied History of Art. We started a generic
discussion on art and various practices, when I found out we were talking
about things just discussed in class. He recommended me many practitioners,
some of them already mentioned in class. Amongst them was Yayoi Kusama.
A Japanese artist that has worked with various mediums. All of her work is
situated in the spectrum of surrealism, often chaotic, to the point of psychedelia.
He told me she was having an exhibition in London in Tate Modern. I started
looking at her work a couple of weeks before the London trip in May hoping to
visit while there.

Her work is quite distinct because of her style. She is mostly known for her
polka dots paintings and installations as well as the repetitive element
throughtout her work. I managed to visit the exhibition on that Friday. The
exhibition was curated in a chronological order. The early years of her practice,
in a way, alerts the audience of what is to come next, as it seemed to not have an
ending. The enormous ammount of patterns in her paintings where to continue
on large scale paintings and then room installations that really draw you in her
world. In my opinion she has managed to please the audience’s senses in a way
I haven’t experienced before. On the one hand, the repetitive element makes
you think of what she could mean, but on the other hand I felt that everything
was open to interpetation.

Yayoi Kusama @ Tate Modern
[photo: www.isabelleoc.co.uk]
The word psychedelia is derived from the Ancient Greek words psuchē
(ψυχή – psyche, “soul”) and dēlōsē (δήλωση – “manifest”), translating to
“soul-manifesting” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelia). Hence, the
artist’s inner manifestations of the world. Though these manifestations could
translate to us differently. Kusama claims that her work derives from her
visions, I would like to add that these visions are nothing more than her psysical
interaction with the world infused with deep thoughts and feelings, resulting in
her unique view of this world.

Most of works made me feel lost, as I was trying to understand the surreal from a
realistic point of view. In a way, I can translate the repetitive element as a way to
portray the similarities of us all and the world, that if you look her work from a
distance, a god-like point of view, you can’t make distinctions between people,
animals and every living thing. But if you choose to engage and take closer look,
it would enable the viewers to express their own opinions of these complex
works. Hence, showing the unique view that is shaped from one’s own
experiences of the world.

This work specifically made an impact on me as it surrounds you and void you
of the context you live in. This is an installation that leaves you lost and alone
inside infinity. The infinity of everything that surround you every single
moment only you don’t get to notice as you are lost in the small details of this
world. It’s the room of the bigger picture.

Yayoi Kusama – Infinity Mirror Room (2012)

(The installation is made by a room with mirrors on every wall and seiling.
The floor has a highly reflective material sprinkled over with water to
enhance the effect, apart from the path you walk in. Hundreds of multi-colour
LEDs hanging from the seiling change colours in a patern. Some times one
colour, other times many colours, or just two.)

3 thoughts on “Yayoi Kusama – A critical reflection”

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