As you wind through the softly shimmering, prismatic, psychedelic caverns, your perception of ordinary reality melts away into a polka-dotted realm of infinite consciousness and effervescent love. This, at least, is the intended effect of celebrated Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, 89, and her famed Infinity Rooms. Like many artists, Kusama discovered an affinity for a particular archetype and has remained devoted to exploring the myriad permutations of the polka dot. Everything she does seems to incorporate red and polka dots: red polka dot walls, red floors with white polka dots, red polka dots on white polka dots on multi-colored polka dots.
She explains the origin of her dots: “One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I saw the entire room, my entire body and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated and I was restored, returned to infinity, to eternal time and absolute space.”
Widely recognized as the most important living artist from Japan, Kusama travelled to New York in the 1950s, where she worked alongside abstract expressionist legends and influenced a multitude of conceptual and pop artists including Yoko Ono and Andy Warhol. Today, the octogenarian mega-star artist is still churning out fully realized, exceptionally crafted high-concept work.
Experience Yayoi Kusama’s 2013 installation, Love Is Calling, at the Tampa Museum of Art (September 28, 2018-February 14, 2019). This installation—a multi-sensory, enclosed environment only a few people can enter at a time—involves wood, metal, mirrors, rubber, blowers, and the sound of the artist reciting love poems in Japanese. And in November, Kusama’s retrospective, Infinity Mirrors, a more comprehensive polka-dotted indulgence, opens at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA (November 18, 2018-February 17, 2019).
This article is by Philip Ringler, who is a contributing writer for ArtScene Press.
Image caption: Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, b. 1929), LOVE IS CALLING, 2013. Wood, metal, glass mirrors, tile, acrylic panel, rubber, blowers, lighting element, speakers, and sound. 174 1/2 x 340 5/8 x 239 3/8 inches. Vinik Family Foundation Collection. © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice. Photo by Will Ragozzino.