Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived In Heaven
David Zwirner, 525 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
8 November - 21 December 2013
From the Press Release
Spanning the gallery’s three consecutive locations on West 19th Street in New York Yayoi Kusama’s inaugural exhibition at the gallery I Who Have Arrived in Heaven features twenty-seven new large-scale paintings alongside a recent video installation and two mirrored infinity rooms, one of which is made especially for this presentation.
Yayoi Kusama’s work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop art and minimalism. Her extraordinary and highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.
The exhibition’s title, I Who Have Arrived In Heaven, reflects the artist’s long-standing interest in cosmic realms and resonates with the autobiographical element that runs through her oeuvre. The recent and new works on view at the gallery continue her innovative exploration of form, content, and space, while at the same time presenting a link to her artistic production from the past six decades.
For the exhibition, Kusama has created a series of brightly colored, square-format paintings, the majority of which measure over six feet. Part of a recent body of work, they allude to universal spheres or basic life forms and highlight her unique amalgamation of representational and non-representational subject matter. Whereas Everything About My Love depicts a sea of biomorphic shapes, some personified with faces, The Way to My Love and Searching for Love present innumerous eyes, varying in size and proximity, bisected by arteries filled with round, colorful forms. Rows of human profiles are repeated to rhythmic effect in such works as Women in the Memories and Pensive Night. Vibrant, animated, and intense, the paintings transcend their medium to introduce their own pictorial logic, which appears both contemporary and universal.
The exhibition’s centerpiece is Kusama’s newest mirrored infinity room. Shown here for the first time, Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away encompasses a cube-shaped, mirror-paneled room that features a shallow reflecting pool as its floor. Hundreds of multicolored LED lights are suspended at varying heights from the ceiling. They flicker on and off in a strobe-like effect, producing an intense illumination of the space and a repetitive pattern of reflections that suggest endlessness and ultimately invoke concepts of life and death.
Another mirrored infinity room, Love Is Calling, stands as one of Kusama’s most immersive, kaleidoscopic environments to date. It is composed of a darkened, mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like forms’covered in the artist’s characteristic polka dots’that extend from the floor and ceiling, gradually changing colors. A sound recording of Kusama reciting a love poem in Japanese plays continuously. The work was shown earlier this year in Tokyo as part of a group exhibition commemorating the Mori Art Museum’s 10th anniversary. The gallery’s presentation marks its United States debut.
Also exhibited is Manhattan Suicide Addict, a recent video projection in which the artist herself is seen performing a song she composed, while an animated slideshow of selected artworks moves behind her. Drawing its title from her first semi- autobiographical novel published in 1978, the video was produced for the 17th Biennale of Sydney in 2010. It is installed in the gallery flanked by two twelve-foot tall mirrors, further enhancing the video’s psychedelic effects as well as infinitely reflecting the image of the artist and her artworks. Along with the mirrored infinity rooms, it exemplifies the vitality of Kusama’s optical environments, which become hypnotic and self-referential, merging concepts of flatness and depth, presence and absence, transience and permanence, and finiteness and infinity.