The “world’s most popular artist” has a new interactive show in New York, filled with pumpkins and polka dots.
Photography by Go Itame. Courtesy David Zwirner.
Viewers become artists at Yayoi Kusama's new show, Give Me Love, which opened this past Saturday at David Zwirner Gallery. Becoming a part of the installation as soon as they step into one third of the show, the "Obliteration Room," visitors are handed round rainbow-colored stickers to place wherever they choose in an all-white space designed to look like a typical American suburban house. The effect illustrates Kusama's obliteration theory using her signature dots: over time, the pristine surfaces of the room will be completely transformed into a blur of color by visitors and their stickers.
Taking up two spaces at 519 and 525 West 19th Street, the exhibition also includes paintings from Kusama's My Eternal Soul series, and new polka-dot pumpkin sculptures. The paintings are personal, autobiographical statements (with titles like I Who Have Taken an Antidepressant), imagined in Kusama's vivid style and, of course, with dots. It's as easy to get lost in their broad brushstrokes, striking palette and intensity as it is in the dizzying "Obliteration Room." Dots also cover the steel pumpkins — pumpkins, too, have been a longtime theme in Kusama's work, but are reimagined here in forms tall enough and shiny enough to reveal the viewer's reflection.
Earlier this year, The Art Newspaper declared Kusama the most popular artist in the world, based on museum attendance. (Previous exhibitions have had to stay open for up to 36 hours straight to accommodate the crowds.) And the interactive elements of Give Me Love add a whole new level to the mesmerizing, down-the-rabbithole feel of her shows. Adding your stickers to the "Obliteration Room" feels both like you're leaving your own mark, but also like you're inching one step closer to experiencing the world as Kusama does (she explains her dots as leftovers from childhood hallucinations). Examining your reflection in one of her five-foot steel pumpkins has a similarly trippy effect on your self-perception. Like so much of Kusama's work, these pieces help you see the things you're most used to seeing a little differently.
'Give Me Love' is on view through June 13, at David Zwirner, 519 and 525 West 19th Street.
Text Courtney Iseman
Photography courtesy David Zwirner