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I'm Here, and I'm a Dot

Updated: Nov 26, 2023


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Youth Accompanied by Both Death and Life Creeping Up Silently behind You As Art within Youth As Destiny!, acrylic on canvas, 2021 (now on view in David Zwirner, New York)



Yayoi Kusama's fascination with infinity stems from her personal struggles with mental health. As a young girl, she had to deal with vivid hallucinations that made her feel a sense of infinity: an endless repetition of patterns, dots, and lights. Instead of letting these experiences consume her and despite her family's objections, Kusama turned them into a creative force, bringing the concept of infinity to life through art. Her iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms exemplify this approach, immersing guests in a kaleidoscope of reflections that stretch endlessly in all directions, challenging our perceptions of space and time.


© YAYOI KUSAMA


When people see their own reflection multiplied to infinity, they then sense that there is no limit to man’s ability to project himself into endless space. Y. K.


© YAYOI KUSAMA

The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Infinity Mirror Room (Pumpkin), outside view, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan


One of the defining characteristics of Kusama's art is her extensive use of repetitive motifs, primarily polka-dots. These dots, meticulously and obsessively applied, represent interconnected universes. By repeating those motifs, Kusama invites viewers to contemplate the vastness of the cosmos and our place within it. Her works blur the boundaries between the individual and the collective, symbolizing the idea that we are all connected, a concept that resonates with audiences on a deeply human level.


© YAYOI KUSAMA


A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless, and unknowing. Polka-dots can't stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become movement. Y. K.


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Y. K. in Dots Obsession room


Through her precise attention to detail and use of mirrors, Kusama expands the spatial boundaries, offering a glimpse into an otherworldly realm that transcends the confines of our physical reality. The viewer is confronted with an illusion of infinite space, where the lines between the artwork, the surrounding environment, and their own reflection become blurred. This interplay of borders creates an immersive experience that transports viewers beyond their physical limitations and allows them to contemplate the multiply possibilities that lie within and beyond their immediate surroundings.


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Y. K. in Infinite Obsession mirror room


The theme of infinity in Kusama's works is closely linked to her concept of "self-obliteration". By losing oneself within the vastness of her installations, viewers experience a sense of dissolution, as individuality merges with the infinity. Kusama invites us to contemplate our own existence and the transience of life, urging us to embrace all possibilities that lie within ourselves.


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Y. K. Horse Play, Woodstock, 1967


While infinity may seem like a serious and profound concept to explore, Kusama infuses her artworks with a sense of humor. She invites viewers to engage with her installations not only on an intellectual level but also through joy and laughter. The juxtaposition of vibrant colors, whimsical forms, and astonishing surprises creates an atmosphere of childlike wonder, encouraging us to let go of our preconceptions and embrace the absurd. Kusama's playful approach to polka-dots adds a lighthearted touch to her pieces. By covering surfaces, objects, and even herself with dots, she challenges our notions of order and conformity, inviting us to find humor in the unexpected.


© YAYOI KUSAMA

Yellow Pumpkin, permanent installation, Naoshima, Japan


Pumpkins have been a great comfort to me since my childhood; they speak to me of the joy of living. They are humble and amusing at the same time, and I have and always will celebrate them in my art. Y. K.



When you find yourself lost in the infinity of a Kusama installation, allow yourself to be engulfed by the beauty, the absurdity, and the humor that she weaves into her art so brilliantly.



I’ve Sung the Mind of Kusama Day by Day, a Song from the Heart.

O Youth of Today, Let Us Sing Together a Song from the Heart of the Universe!


Y. K.’s message to an ongoing exhibition in David Zwirner, New York


 

Yayoi Kusama, born on March 22, 1929, in Matsumoto, Japan, is a renowned Japanese contemporary artist. She gained prominence in the 1960s as a key figure in the New York art scene, where she settled after moving to the United States. Kusama's innovative and visionary contributions to art, including immersive installations, paintings, and sculptures, have left a lasting impact. Returning to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama continued to create groundbreaking works, cementing her status as an influential artist. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.



 

Download Selections from Every Day I Pray for Love published on the occasion of Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, a major exhibition at David Zwirner, New York:

Selections from Every Day I Pray for Love
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Download PDF • 5.01MB


Works of Yayoi Kusama now on view:


David Zwirner, New York (three galleries in Chelsea): I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, May 11 – July 21

Guggenheim Bilbao: Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, June 27 - October 8


Tate Modern, London: Infinity Mirror Rooms, May 18, 2021 – April 28, 2024


Yayoi Kusama Museum, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, permanent exhibition

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