Yayoi Kusama: Give Me Love
Saturday, May 9 through Saturday, June 13
Opening reception: Saturday, May 9 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
David Zwirner – 519 and 525 W. 19th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
Everyone’s favorite octogenarian artist returns to David Zwirner with new paintings, new polka-dotted pumpkin sculptures, and the US debut of a major installation. Recently ranked the most popular artist in 2014, Japanese painter/sculptor/performance artist/writer/filmmaker Yayoi Kusama, 86, is having her second show at David Zwirner, following the wildly successful Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived in Heaven in 2013, the gallery’s most well attended exhibition.
Kusama continues her recent series of large-format, square My Eternal Soul paintings with a group of canvases conveying extraordinary vitality and passion. With titles such as Fear of Youth Overwhelmed by the Spring Time of Life, I Who Have Taken an Antidepressant, and My Longing, the Unseen Land of Death, the compositions acquire an autobiographic, even confessional dimension. The bold brushstrokes and swirly shapes seem to hover between figuration and abstraction; vibrant, animated, and intense, they transcend their medium to introduce their own pictorial logic, at once contemporary and universal. As such, while they continue Kusama’s innovative exploration of form, subject matter, and space, they also represent a connection to her work from the past six decades.
The sculptures on view include new stainless steel pumpkins featuring either painted or perforated dots. Their exaggerated sizes — the tallest being approximately 70 inches high — seem measured after human proportions, and their mirrored surfaces are thus able to contain viewers’ full-body reflections.
The exhibition marks the US debut of The Obliteration Room, an all-white, domestic interior that over the course of the show is covered by dots of varying sizes and colors. In a departure from earlier iterations of the work, which have involved one or several rooms, the present installation is built like a typical, prefabricated American suburban house. As visitors are handed a set of stickers and step inside, they enter a completely white residential setting where otherwise familiar objects such as a kitchen counter, couch, and bookshelves are all painted the same shade. Gradually transforming the space as a result of the interaction, the accumulation of the bright dots ultimately changes the interior until it is eradicated into a blur of colors. A sense of depth and volume disappears as individual pieces of furniture, floors, and walls blend together.
Kusama has noted that she began to see her surroundings through a screen of dots early in her life, and she later came to refer to the process as obliteration — the gradual removal of any trace of something. Several happenings from the 1960s and onwards were called Self-Obliteration and involved the artist covering herself and others with dots. Their all-enveloping presence in The Obliteration Room also recalls the artist’s infinity rooms, in which thousands of small lights flicker against mirrored walls.
For more information, please visit David Zwirner’s website.