A kalei­do­scopic ex­hi­bi­tion to lose your­self in

Over 120 kalei­do­scopic works from the Ja­panese artist’s oeu­vre fea­ture in the first ma­jor sur­vey of her work within South-East Asia.

Time Out Singapore - - The Hot List - By Re­becca Liew

PSY­CHE­DELIC COLOURS, pumpkin mo­tifs and polka dots have long shaped Yayoi Kusama’s prac­tice – and when

Life is the Heart of a Rain­bow

lands at the Na­tional Gallery Sin­ga­pore, ex­pect the leg­endary Ja­panese artist’s most ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of works within South-East Asia yet.

Along­side her In­fin­ity Nets se­ries, the ex­hi­bi­tion presents 120 paint­ings, sculp­tures, videos and in­stal­la­tions, in­clud­ing a re­cre­ation of Kusama’s in­fin­ity mir­ror rooms – most of which are re­plete with lash­ings of her famed mo­tifs. Each is an ex­am­i­na­tion of how her works have res­onated across ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries, and the so­ci­etal and per­sonal chal­lenges she has over­come to make her mark in the art world.

The 87-year-old, whose avant-garde use of shapes and colour re­flect the trauma and men­tal health is­sues she’s dealt with since young, con­tin­ues her prac­tice from a san­i­tar­ium where she vol­un­tar­ily re­sides. We delve into her sur­real world with these six works.

Nar­cis­sus Gar­den (1966)

Nar­cis­sism’s the pil­lar of – and rea­son for – Kusama’s art, and in 1966’s Nar­cis­sus Gar­den, some 1,500 re­flec­tive spheres are ar­ranged to form an in­fi­nite field of im­ages. Each is dis­torted and smaller than meets the eye, cre­at­ing a sense of dis­com­fort for the viewer.

When the in­stal­la­tion opened, the artist sold these mir­rored balls to passers-by in an out­door set-up on the lawn fronting the Ital­ian Pav­il­ion. In mak­ing vanity and the ego the sub­ject of the in­stal­la­tion, the con­fronta­tional piece has reg­u­larly been in­ter­preted as Kusama’s protest of the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of art.

In­fin­ity Mir­rored Room: Gleam­ing Lights of the Souls

This se­ries in­cludes full-blown psy­che­delic in­stal­la­tions that over­turn the senses, and you can ex­pect the same mind-bend­ing el­e­ments from Kusama’s 2008 ad­di­tion to the range. This new work is marked by a hun­dred glow­ing orbs sus­pended above

the viewer that change colours – it’s so im­mer­sive, you’ll al­most feel at one with the uni­verse.

Pumpkin (1981)

The yel­low pumpkin was birthed in 1981 in the form of an acrylic paint­ing, and would go on to be one of sev­eral iconic ob­jects syn­ony­mous with Kusama. That the squash plant is ca­pa­ble of grow­ing even un­der un­favourable con­di­tions fas­ci­nated the artist, and this – cou­pled with the plant’s unas­sum­ing ap­pear­ance – was some­thing she re­garded with won­der.

Don’t miss The Spir­its of the Pump­kins De­scended into the Heav­ens (2017), ei­ther: you’ll tra­verse in­fin­ity through the fruit’s bul­bous forms that stretch into an end­less sea of black and yel­low.

Life is the Heart of a Rain­bow (2017)

When, in 2009, Kusama sought to com­plete an epic paint­ing se­ries en­ti­tled My Eter­nal Soul, her in­ten­tion of com­plet­ing 100 can­vases quickly ex­panded to 500 works, of which 24 are on show at the Gallery.

In these works, ex­pect far more than the mo­tifs she’s known for. Be­yond the eyes, dots and nets re­splen­dent in her other pieces, she con­tin­ues to push the bound­aries through her ex­per­i­men­ta­tions with form and colour. So in true Kusama style, the pieces are both sur­real and hu­mor­ous. The se­ries is, es­sen­tially, a com­pen­dium of the lu­mi­nary’s 70-odd years as an artist. à Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rain­bow IS AT THE NA­TIONAL GALLERY SIN­GA­PORE FROM JUN 9-SEP 3.

It’s so im­mer­sive, you’ll al­most feel at one with the uni­verse

Nar­cis­sus Gar­den (1966)

Pumpkin (1981)

IN­fiN­ITY MIR­RORED ROOM: GLEAM­ING LIGHTS OF THE SOULS

LIFE IS THE HEART OF A RAIN­BOW (2017)

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