For all of our Artitute aficionados, Yayoi Kusama requires no introduction with her work already having been exhibited in Biennales, Triennales and breaking attendance records at major museums all around the world.
However, for those of who may not be familiar with her name or may not have spotted her works before (pun intended) a short introduction may be in order. Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan where she studied the traditional Japanese style of painting, Nihonga. The strong desire to pursue her dreams in being an artist led her to leave Japan and begin her journey to international stardom. Just like many artists, her journey was a difficult one, especially as she has been suffering from hallucinations from an early age which continue to plague her to this day and she still voluntarily resides in a hospital for the mentally impaired where she has resided for the past few decades.
These hallucinations are strongly tied with the use of her trademark polka dots which she repeatedly uses as a form of art therapy. Despite these adversities, the sheer brilliance of her work shines through like a beacon, entrancing all that experience her works like moths to a flame. She is currently the most expensive living female artist and perhaps without doubt currently the most recognizable and sought after.
With all of this in the back of my mind, I found myself incredibly excited to have the opportunity to visit this museum and to share my experience with all of you!
This magnificent museum is laid out over a 5-story building that was especially built for Yayoi Kusama by the renowned Japanese architect, Kume Sekkei. The goal of the building was to allow the works of Kusama to be viewed from different angles, heights and perspectives whilst keeping each floor independent of each other and still manage to flow seamlessly in a helical manner. In this they have succeeded.
As I was fortunate enough to experience the museum on my own I decided to go from top to bottom, (although the museum prefers people to start on the second floor and work their way up) and marched into the lift which was clad in mirrors and polka dots which turned out to be a great place to take selfies!
Starting on the top floor turned out to be a great idea as the sun was setting which made the large, solitary pumpkin, that inhabited the upper roof deck almost come alive with the fading light and the rosy glow of dusk.
On the same floor was a small library of several publications which counted with a mere fraction of the many works published about this amazing artist.
As I descended the rather steep stairs I found a door that was slightly ajar, in an inviting manner… I entered a dark room to find a lonely pumpkin that started to multiply!
It took a while, in this darkened room, for my eyes to adjust and realize that I was standing in front of a pumpkin installation titled: Pumpkins Screaming about Love beyond Infinity” 2017. I stood there enthralled for what seemed like an age, just watching the pumpkins fade and reappear into infinity and beyond…
I eventually broke free of the mesmerizing pumpkins on the 4th floor and made my way down to be rewarded by an explosion of colour from 16 large works from Kusama’s “My Eternal Soul” series. These enormous works of art all measured 194 x 194 cm and covered the walls of the museum like a sort of psychedelic wall paper. The power of the colour just left me breathless as I roamed about as if in a dream.
The second floor was equally impressive due to the size of the works but also to the fact that it was dedicated to edition works, something which every collector worth his or her salt should have in their collection. These works were monochromatic works of simple black on white that had a quality that only someone as masterful as Yayoi Kusama could capture and present to the viewing public.
I finally and quite sadly made it down to the first floor, where the entrance and gift shop were located to read the message from Yayoi Kusama which I have pictured below for you.
The museum, like a lot of Kusama’s artwork is more like a journey, a fantastic experience, which in order to be fully appreciated, should be lived in person.
Further details of the museum can be found here: