Yayoi Kusama (草間彌生) is a world-renowned avant-garde artist who has worked in a wide variety of medias. All exhibit her deep interest in patterns, repetition, and psychedelic colors.
One of her latest exhibitions is called “Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul (わが永遠の魂)”, which reflects her lifelong preoccupation with the infinite and sublime, including the twin themes of cosmic infinity and personal obsession. This exhibition is now open to the public at the National Art Center (国立新美術館) in Tokyo’s Minato Ward (港区) until May 22, 2017. Let’s find out more about this fascinating artist and her work.
Yayoi Kusama started painting at the age of ten. She started by using watercolors, pastels, and oils for her works and used polka dots and nets as a theme. She further developed her skill when she went to the USA in 1957, when she was 28.
She has made large paintings, soft sculptures, and environmental sculptures. She has also staged body painting festivals, fashion shows, and anti-war demonstrations. Later in her life, she became involved in media-related activities such as film production and newspaper publication.
Upon returning to Japan in 1973, she continued honing her skills by issuing a number of novels and anthologies. She began creating open-air sculptures in 1994 and produced open-air pieces for different centers and museums. To fully showcase her works, she has conducted solo exhibitions around the world.
She went on to win the Education Minister’s Art Encouragement Prize (芸術選奨文部大臣賞) and Foreign Minister’s Commendations (外務大臣表彰) in 2000. She also received the Asahi Prize (朝日賞) in 2001 and the Medal with Dark Navy Blue Ribbon (紺綬褒章) in 2002.
Yayoi Kusama’s “My Eternal Soul” series encapsulates a surreal, humorous and instinctual approach to art creation. Each painting is a representation of images including eyes, faces in profile, and other more indeterminate forms recalling cell structures. These come in pulsating combinations of colors.
Each of these is a spontaneous work which pulses a desire to create something fresh and new.
“Talks of a Flower Garden”
One of her featured paintings is named “Talks of a Flower Garden.” Structures in this painting appear psychedelically primordial, such as its jewel-like nuclei suspended in shades of sky blue against a fiery expanse of orange.
“My Heart’s Abode”
“My Heart’s Abode” brings to mind ancient landscapes and grand geological patterns. It is composed of lines, marks, and dots in sedimentary-like layers.
“Lights of the Heart”
Among the most existential of all her paintings is “Lights of the Heart.” This painting consists of a bright white light in its center, signifying a sense of enlightenment, nothingness, and solitude. Kusama relies on a variety of media to depict her work, all of which are produced from brush, paint, and canvas alone. These are overflowing in meaning, which comes from Kusama’s desire of showcasing different ideas from the unpredictable and contradictory.
This is a long-awaited exhibition which was opened to the public on February 22, 2017. It will run its course until May 22, 2017. It will showcase approximately 130 of Kusama’s large painting collection.
This is considered the 10th anniversary exhibition held in the National Art Center of Tokyo, thus it is expected to draw many spectators. If you have an interest in Yayoi Kusama’s artworks and how she puts her heart and soul into her masterpieces, check out her special exhibition before it ends!
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