Interior Inspiration from the Yayoi Kusama Exhibition
Infinity, Obsessions & Self-Obliteration
Yayoi Kusama aka The High Priestess of Polka Dots, is one of the world's most influential artists with works created over the span of seven decades. With her iconic dots, patterns, pumpkins, bold colours and infinity rooms, her conceptual art challenges issues including anxiety and hallucinations, fear and obsession with sex, war, capitalism and other social stereotypes. Her insecurity becomes the biggest driving force of her work. In the mid-70s she checked into a mental hospital and it didn't stop there. At the age of 88, she is still going strong and her work has become more widely known than ever. Later this year she's going to open her own museum in Tokyo - how amazing is that?!
Galleries in the world are queueing to showcase her work and people are queueing to join this prevailing social media phenomenon. Over here in Singapore, the National Gallery is the first in Southeast Asia to hold a major survey of her work in such scale and variety. To take advantage of being a member, I recently paid two visits to get up-close and personal with her art and get some interior inspiration. And without further ado, here are the top 5 things that caught my eye:
Dots and Nets
Repetitive dots and nets are the signature motifs of Kusama's. She credited this imagery to the hallucinations of vivid lights and dots that she experienced as a child and continued to develop this idea in many of her important works. She called this process 'self-obliteration'. Here she explored from paper to canvas, from black and white to the electric hues.
This one below is particularly mesmerising. You can't help but stare into the cloud (or abyss...) of white net - is it some form of organic texture? or synthetic? I swear if you see it in person, you'd just want to examine the detail in a forensic manner...
Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets - a classical nude figure of the goddess Venus covered in the infinity pattern of dots and nets. The artist claims the 'obliteration' is not only about the labour-intensive act of making the repetitive pattern, but also the visual effect of the figure being submerged and engulfed by the surroundings or background with the same pattern.
Mirrors & Infinity Rooms
Kusama later extended her obsession of dots and nets from canvas to installations for a totally captivating experience for the senses. Convex mirrors, steel balls (Narcissus Garden), and confined space with mirrored walls. It was a feast of optic illusions. When stepped into the Infinity Mirrored Room - Gleaming Lights of the Souls (the dark room with blue lights) the confined space made you feel uneasy at first but very quickly your eyes are adjusted to the darkness and you'll start feeling you're floating in this endless reflection of the dotted lights and losing the sense of distance and space.
Kusama grew up in rural japan where her family ran a nursery growing flowers and pumpkins. It became another signature motifs and remains very important to her creations.
It was said that Kusama had a physically abusive mother and an unfaithful father, and as a child she was forced by her mother to spy on his father's affairs, which resulted in her long-term disdain and obsession with sexuality. She turned to art as therapy and uses phallic forms in many of her soft sculptures and installations. As a female artist coming from a conservative Asian background to express her inner anxiety so publicly in the 60s' Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll America was such a bold move and made her art even more powerful.
Black and White Drawings
The Love Forever series consists of 50 drawings - all with black marker with detailed spontaneous drawings of 'happy' images such as flowers, spring, morning, youth. The obsession with repetitive patterns is still dominant here.
And here are some other highlights from the exhibition:
Kusama has also successful in collaborations with fashion labels (makes me wonder if that's a way of a 'self-obliteration' into the 21st century commercialism) but in any case, I walked away feeling inspired by her endless energy, the urge to express and more importantly be unique.
If you want to embrace the Kusama style at home, here's my take to incorporate a quirky sophisticated look (no self-obliteration involved, but maybe just a bit of indulgence!)
GET THE LOOK:
Cole & Son Goldstone Wallpaper | Rose and Grey Convex Wall Mirrors | Swoon Editions Ritz Armchair in Bordeaux | Sara Willett Painting via Saatchi Art | Mini Melt Pendant Lamp by Tom Dixon | Infinity Mirror Drum Table | Dora Maar Urn by Jonathan Adler | Ceramic Plate by Yayoi Kusama | Sphere Candle by Autour du Parfum
Hope you like this interior inspiration from a trip to the art gallery! If you enjoyed reading the blog, please sign up to the newsletter to receive a monthly round up and extra interior tips and picks. You can also me on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of ideas and inspo.
See you next time!