the infinite joy of yayoi kusama

As the beloved Japanese artist opens a major exhibition in London, celebrate what makes her work so unique.

by Matthew Whitehouse
25 May 2016, 7:47pm

Yayoi Kusama Portrait, 2014 Photography © Noriko Takasugi

It was in the late 50s that a young Japanese woman put herself on a plane and traveled to the other side of the world (New York, to be precise) with the intention of making her name in the city's art scene. She may have hardly known anyone, but small-town Japan's Yayoi Kusama quickly established herself as one of the great migrant artists — an important part of the new artistic currents flowing through modern and postwar art at the time. It's the kind of story that says a lot about the boundlessness of her work, now on display at the Victoria Miro in London — the artist's largest UK show since her retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2012. 

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 

From the dispersed patterns of the INFINITY-NETS series to cosmic wonder of Where the Lights in My Heart Go — her first outdoor version of the well-loved mirror rooms that have seen her named Most Popular Artist in the World™ — boundlessness is something that occurs again and again in Kusama's work (and, in the the mirror rooms, again and again and again). Infinite dots cover entire canvases, a chandelier appears in multiple perspectives and, in All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, a field of glowing, yellow squash — a central motif in her work since the 70s — appears to stretch out into the ether. Don't bother taking a selfie. The light's too bad and, at the end of the day, you're just a person standing next to a load of pumpkins. What these rooms are made for are moments of self-reflection (literally). Step inside and surrender to the infinite joy of Yayoi Kusama.

Chandelier of Grief, 2016 

Yayoi Kusama is on at the Victoria Miro Gallery May 25 - July 30, 2016.


Text Matthew Whitehouse 
Images courtesy KUSAMA Enterprise, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London © Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama
victoria miro