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The Joyful Contemporary Art of Yayoi Kusama

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 24, 2019 11:49

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The celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has a new exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery in Manhattan.

Yayoi Kusama (Susanne Nilsson, CC By-SA 2.0)

Art can be many things to many people: a form of expression, a thing of beauty, an inspiration, a form of paying tribute-- and even something fun and energetic. Yayoi Kusama's art, which includes her paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations, is lit with colors, favors simple designs and repetition, and has become enormously popular with young and old. The ninety year old artist's work is infused with pop art sensibility and psychedelic influences. 

In 2017, I visited David Zwirner's Chelsea, Manhattan gallery to see her exhibition, which included a fascinating and colorful Infinity Room installation, mirrored with light and props that changed colors. It was dizzying but fun, and I became a fan then and there of her work. In the summer of 2018, she had an installation at the Rockaway Artists Alliance in Queens, NYC that was also highly enjoyable. So when I heard that her show "Everyday I Pray For Love" would be shown at Zwirner in November and December, I knew I had to experience it.

Her shows in NYC are notorious for lengthy waiting lines, but this time I brought a stool to sit on, and within 45 minutes I was inside and checking out the newest Infinity Mirrored Room and other paintings, sculptures and other pieces. 

I enjoyed the works overall. The Infinity Room was a bewildering, slightly disorienting experience, but fun. I particularly appreciated a piece she had of an Infinity ladder, lit up and changing colors, that reminded me of the Biblical Jacob's ladder.

I do admit that I enjoyed the 2017 Infinity Room more. Because it was the first time I'd encountered such a thing, it was more of a surprise.

Just about every visitor to the exhibition snaps photos, especially selfies, and this brings up a particular issue that is very contemporary, yet somewhat old hat: that too many people experience art as a series of photo opportunities, and less as a look-and-absorb experience.

Think about it: at museums, tourist attractions, sporting events, milestone events such as graduations and weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs and so on, so many of us feel compelled to take photo after photo. Then we rifle through the pics, edit, and post to social media. We curate constantly.

I also guilty of this, to an extent. I feel the need to look intently (or casually) at the artwork or the event or the ceremony going on, and then take photographs. 

But too many people rush in, snap away, then dash onto the next experience or site or sight. It's institutionalized ADHD. 

Slow down, people. Actually take time to look at the Kusama pieces, such as this cheery faces piece, or sculpture, or artist statement. Look. Observe. Ponder. Slow down, at least sometimes. It's not a race to see how many photographs you can accumulate. It's about parceling time and finding what you like or dislike, asking questions, analyzing the art, event, and life in general.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 24, 2019 11:49

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Source: Dezeen

Installations that demonstrate Yayoi Kusama 's obsession with polka dots are on show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art...

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