the infinite joy of yayoi kusama
She came from Japan, she had a thirst for mirrors.
Yayoi Kusama Portrait, 2014 Photography © Noriko Takasugi
It was in the late 50s, that a young Japanese woman put herself on a plane and travelled to the other side of the world, New York to be precise, with the intention of making her name on the city's art scene. She may have hardly known anyone, but small-town 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.
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 the work of Yayoi Kusama (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 stood 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.
Yayoi Kusama is on at the Victoria Miro gallery 25 May - 30 July 2016.
Text Matthew Whitehouse
Images courtesy KUSAMA Enterprise, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London © Yayoi Kusama