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  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Japanese contemporary art
  • Japanese contemporary art

I Who Have Arrived In Heaven

January 6, 2014

One of the New York exhibitions that stirred up the public was definitely an ethereal presentation of Yayoi Kusama’s art, titled I Who Have Arrived In Heaven. The word about the show spread at the speed of light via social networks, and soon after opening, lines started forming in front of the David Zwirner Gallery at West 19th Street. People were waiting in lines to see Kusama’s new light installation and to enliven the catharsis in the simulated three-dimensional depiction of eternity. The exhibition became exceptionally popular, as the standing in line often lasted longer than 4 hours. I Who Have Arrived In Heaven spanned all three exhibition spaces of the gallery, and it showcased twenty-seven new paintings, Kusama’s new video work and two mirrored room light installations, one of which was created specially for this exhibition. Yayoi Kusama began his collaboration with David Zwirner Gallery in early 2013, and this exhibition was the inaugural consequence of their cooperation.

Japanese contemporary art
Yayoi Kusama
Japanese contemporary art
Yayoi Kusama
Japanese contemporary art
Yayoi Kusama

Kusama’s imagery

Connotations of the exhibit title encompass personal diaristic elements typical for Kusama’s body of work, and simultaneously mirror her preoccupation with the universe. Her latest pieces follow the artistic analysis of form, physical and mental space Kusama exuded in her earlier work, spanning over sixty prolific years. Paintings showcased at this occasion are vividly colored, square and large in format, most of them being over six feet tall. Uniting the microcosmic with macrocosmic components, Kusama’s depictions reminisce pristine creatures as well as universal elements, in her unique blend of realistic and imagined imagery. Biomorphic shapes are sometimes distinguished with faces, repetitive eye motif varies in size and form, humanoid elements are rhythmically duplicated in order to intensify  the logic of the composition. Elaborate and contemplative, Kusama’s paintings vibrate with color and universal movement that has an energizing effect on the observer.

Japanese contemporary art
Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Mirrored Room

The most attractive feature of the exhibition was the latest light installation, titled Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. Produced especially for this exhibit, the installation was comprised of a cubic room, walls lined with mirrors, with a shallow reflecting pool on the floor. The ethereal effect of the space multiplication is enhanced by suspension of hundreds of colored LED lights on different heights. The suspended lights sparkle constantly, illuminating the room and changing the repeated design reflected in the mirrors in a seemingly endless space. Visual effects produced in such sea of light and weightlessness allude to heavenly realms, and provoke meditation on the brevity and eternity of life.

Yayoi Kusama
The Souls of million light years away

Love is Calling

One more mirrored infinity room was presented at the exhibition under the title Love is Calling. This installation was presented before at Kusama’s exhibit in Tokyo earlier in 2013. It encompasses a dark, mirrored space, lit only by large, inflated polychromatic tentacles, coated in Kusama’s signature polka-dot pattern. While the limbs that emerge from the ceiling and the floor slowly change color, the voice recording of the artist reading a love poem in Japanese is playing in an endless loop. Love is Calling represents an intimate confession of Yayoi Kusama, allowing the viewer to share the beautifully delicate experience.

The Catalog

A New York exhibit of the eminent 84-year old Japanese urban artist was definitely one of the most interesting contemporary art shows at the end of the year. For the unlucky many that have missed the opportunity to see the fantastic light creations of Yayoi Kusama, David Zwirner Gallery will publish a detailed catalogue about the I Who Have Arrived In Heaven.

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