Yayoi Kusama is an 89-year-old Japanese artist, who continues to enthral the public with her novel creations that, at times, verge on the eccentric. Take her latest art installation for example. This intriguing piece at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York is simply titled ‘I Who Have Arrived in Heaven’, but the concept is simply mind-boggling.
In this installation, Kusama simply played with lights in a darkened room to give a feeling of the cosmos. Aptly named ‘Infinity Mirror Room’, it depicts an enchanting and endless space that gives the visitor a unique experience. Of course, it takes some imagination to get the hang of what this piece of art is all about.
This mirror room, called ‘Souls of Millions of Light Years Away’, is a typical cube-shaped room lined with mirrors and covered with water on the floor. The walls, ceiling and the floor of this room are all covered in mirrors. It is the reflection of hundreds of blinking and flickering LEDs that gives one a feeling of floating in infinite space that is populated by galaxies and nebulae. It also suggests a pattern of life and death.
Of course, the experience is certainly surreal and it has become tremendously popular with people, who don’t mind waiting in long lines to enter the Zwirner Gallery just to have this fascinating experience. This is one of Kusama’s latest works, and she aims to install the same in other galleries as well.
Kusama has always been fascinated with sculpting and installations. During her creative career, she has worked on some unique installations that are as innovative, as they are different from each other. However, she is equally adept at painting, performing arts, fashion, poetry and others. But, it’s her work based on conceptual art that displays her true feelings of feminism, surrealism, minimalism, abstract expressionism, etc.
Kusama’s childhood was spent in Matsumoto, a mountain city of Japan. She took her initial training in art at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts and excelled in Japanese painting style called nihonga. However, having been smitten by the American Abstract Impressionism, she decided to move to New York, where she soon became a part of the pop-art movement.
She kind of scandalized the city in the 1960s, at the height of the hippie counterculture, when she brazenly painted totally naked participants with bright-coloured polka dots in a series she termed ‘Happenings’. This was her attempt to protest the Vietnam war.
Once she came into the public consciousness, there was no looking back for her. She continued to create distinctive works, most installations, that she displayed in various museums around the world.
Even in her ninth decade, this amazing artist is going strong. To honour her contribution to art, a 50-year retrospective of her work opened at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC in 2017. Not for nothing has she been regarded as the most important living artists from Japan. We certainly wish her many more years of creativity.