Gail Forrer

Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart Of A Rainbow

"The struggle is endless

I want to create more innovative works

I am sleepless thinking about that

Thoughts of creating are yearnings for the unknown

I want to pursue my struggle as an avant garde artist

Until I expire."

Yayoi Kusama, 2017

Yayoi Kusama, born in Japan, on March 22 129, is one of the most renowned artists working today. Her creations, with their characteristic dots, nets and pumpkins, have reached beyond the art world to enter popular culture. Similarly, the distinctive image of the artist's signature electric red hair is widely recognisable. Since her emergence in Japan in the early 1950s, and her participation in the postwar art scenes in New York and Europe in the 1960s, Kusama has carved a singular path as an artist. She has been at the forefront of multimedia art, installation, soft sculpture, performance and public art, influencing generations of artists throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

'Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow' is a focused overview of Kusama's vast body of work.It explores the development over seven decades of art making of Kusama's iconic motifs, her engagement with the human body and her expansive conception of space. The exhibition includes early painterly experiments, a multi decade presentation of the artist's celebrated 'net' paintings, performance documentation, soft sculpture and assemblage, as well as the 'infinity rooms' and large scale installations of her later career. Building on imagery and strategies that she has employed throughout her oeuvre, recent paintings and sculptures show Kusama's remarkable consistency, as well as her extraordinary inventiveness.

The exhibition culminates in a reprise of her interactive project The obliteration room 2002 - ongoing, in GOMA's Children's Art Centre, while the beguiling installation Narcissus garden 1966/2002 is on display in the Queensland Art Gallery's Watermall.

This exhibition is a collaboration between National Gallery Singapore and Queensland Art Ga llery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. The earliest works in the exhibition were made in Yayoi Kusama's home studio in Matsumoto, following her study of nihonga (Japanese style painting) in Kyoto in the late 1940s.

Kusama's relationship with her family was difficult, as they strongly resisted her ambition to be an artist. At this time, Japan was recovering from its defeat in World War Two, and the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In these early works, there is a sense of psychological tension, which already features in the repeated dot patterns that would later become Kusama's trademark.

Finding the traditional imagery of nihonga limiting, Kusama was drawn to the art of the avant garde.The dada and surrealist movements that had strongly influenced Japanese art in the 1920s and 1930s experienced a revival after the war, and a surrealist tendency an interest in the subconscious is evident in the five works exhibited here.




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