'I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven and I will look down on my beautiful life.'
So says Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Visitors of her phenomenal Victoria Miro Wharf Road show in 2016 climbed these stairs to heaven with her. For the show, Kusama brought three Infinity Mirrored Rooms to Islington; mirrored convex chambers, each with some flickering light source, in which everything becomes suddenly infinite; suspended in a kaleidoscopic cosmos.
Now, Kusama returns to Victoria Miro Wharf Road with a new large-scale Infinity Mirrored Room and a major solo show of new work. Continuing to address twin themes of cosmic infinity and personal obsession, infinity dots, pumpkins and fractured reflection, unsurprisingly, abound.
Installed at the top of the vertigo-inducing Victoria Miro stairs, Kusama's new Infinity Room is the star of the show. When you step inside, everything is suddenly infinite. Or, almost infinite. Unlike the 2016 mirrored installations, the floor in My Heart is Dancing to the Universe is not mirrored. Still, dimension upon dimension of spotty LED lanterns tumble around you. Multi-coloured dots engulf you; you are suspended in a kaleidoscope of colour; an otherworldly cosmos awaits. The effect is quite thrilling. Take an obligatory selfie, before leaving.
Installation shot: Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018
Outside of the mirrored room, polka dots continue to dominate. There’s five new polka dot paintings, painted in a vibrant palette of red, yellow and green, and three gigantic painted bronze flower sculptures, covered in polka dots, embellishing the waterside garden.
Aside from polka dots, Kusama’s other great motif is the humble pumpkin. She is fascinated by them; and these bulbous gourds are out in full force at the new Victoria Miro show. Pumpkin sculptures, adorned with tapering patterns of black dots, and paintings of pumpkins adorned with dots, populate the downstairs gallery.
Upstairs in Gallery II, though, dots take a back seat. Here, it's all about Kusama’s My Eternal Soul series. Laden with symbolism, these paintings abound with imagery, including eyes and faces to offer 'impressions of worlds at once microscopic and macroscopic'.
Installation shot: My Eternal Soul series
Since her 2012 Tate Modern retrospective, the British art world has gone dotty for Kusama. Born in Japan in 1929, she moved to downtown New York at the dawn of the 60s, where her work excelled within prevailing trends of Pop Art and psychedelia.
Kusama has since explored the psychedelic and hallucinatory in her work. She has lived in a psychiatric hospital, voluntarily, since 1977; both fearing and nurturing insanity. Working in a nearby studio, Kusama channels her mental illness to positive creative effect through art. Both her trademark polka dots and instantly recognizable Infinity Nets — oils featuring loosely painted single-coloured semicircles, which link together to form a lace-like net – are said to be inspired by her hallucinations.
To say that she has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years would be an understatement. Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton for a collection in 2012. She was named World's Most Popular Artist in 2014, and opened her own Museum in Tokyo in October 2017. This bijou show is small and offers no surprises. But if you are after that Instagram-perfect selfie, it doesn’t disappoint.
This exhibition is expected to be very popular and can only be viewed with a ticket. Pre-book Yayoi Kusama exhibition tickets here.
But there's more exciting news. Kusama fans can thrive in dot mania thanks to a new documentary about the artist's life and childhood in Japan during World War II. Made over the last seventeen years, Kusama - Infinity traces the artist's long career, exploring her creative process, the challenges of being a woman in a male dominated industry and the ongoing influence of her work today.
|What||Review: Yayoi Kusama exhibition, Victoria Miro London|
|Where||Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road , London, N1 7RW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Old Street (underground)|
03 Oct 18 – 21 Dec 18, Closed on Sundays and Mondays
|Website||Please click here for more information|