First-Ever Retrospective Of Renowned Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama Opens In Israel

the Tel Aviv Museum of Art presents the first Israeli exhibition featuring the extensive artwork of acclaimed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama opening on November 15.

The world-famous 92-year-old contemporary artist displays her polka dots and infinite installations on a large scale in a retrospective that brings together works of art produced over a period of 80 years. The extensive survey will track the artist’s work in Japan, Europe and the United States, from early paintings and sculptures to submerged installations that “overwhelm the senses,” says a statement from the museum.

The spirit of the pumpkins descended into the heavens. 2015. Mixed media 200 x 200 x 200. © YAYOI KUSAMA Courtesy: Ota Fine Arts.

Calling her “one of the most important artists of our time,” the museum has said that bringing Kusama’s work to Israel for its first major exhibition in the country took years of waiting, planning and logistics. The installation, A Bouquet of Love I Saw The Universe (2021), first opened at the historic Gropius Bau in Berlin, Germany, in April 2021 after a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was then decided that the exhibition would head to Tel Aviv thanks to a collaboration with Gropius Bau and Studio Kusama in Tokyo. In April, the Tel Aviv Museum Announced the exhibition would open this month and continue through April.

The exhibition is curated by Stephanie Rosenthal, director of Gropius Bau, and Suzanne Landau, with the help of Shahar Molcho and Naama Bar-Or. Landau is a former chief curator of the museum who returned specifically for this event.

Kusama in his Infinity Polka Dots room, Internationale Galerij Orez, The Hague, 1967 Photo by Harrie Verstappen

“The art of 92-year-old Yayoi Kusama, which touches millions of people around the world, spans drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, film and fashion. All his work is fascinatingly powerful, impressive and enjoyable at the same time. The presentation of his retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is definitely a unique event of historical magnitude, ”Landau said at a previous announcement.

Ranked one of the top ten largest and best art exhibitions to open in 2021 worldwide, according to the museum, the extensive exhibit will feature more than 200 works spanning Kusama’s 80-year career, including four Infinity Mirror. Rooms and works exhibited for the first time. time, covering almost 3,000 square meters in six galleries in the two buildings of the Museum.

Infinite room
Infinity Mirror Room – Forever Love, 1966/94 Holz, Spiegel, Metall, Glühbirnen 210.2 x 240.2 x 205.2 cm © YAYOI KUSAMA
Courtesy: Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama is also considered one of the most popular artists in the world. Much of his exposure comes from his personal archive, which Rosenthal and the team have visited in person. The artist grew up in Matsumoto during Japan’s expansionary foreign policy in the 1940s, and at the age of 19, she moved to Kyoto to study the traditional Nihonga painting style at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts. Kusama moved to the United States in the late 1950s and became increasingly known for her work in the 1960s, where she was part of the pop-art movement and the hippie counterculture.

Kusama has worked with numerous media such as painting, collage, sculpture, video, installation, and fashion. His work has been exhibited in New York, Amsterdam, Venice, Rotterdam, Milan, and more.

portrait of yayoi kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Portrait © YAYOI KUSAMA Courtesy: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro & David Zwirne

The artist has not shied away from talking about her mental health problems and has even said that art is like a medicine for help her cope with problems. Kusama has often said that if it weren’t for the art, he would have committed suicide long ago.

Kusama has grown into a global brand and even celebrities like Katy Perry and Adele have acted within its artwork. She is also known for business collaborations with luxury brands. His association with Louis Vuitton in 2021 was said to dramatically increase awareness of his work.

The works

Infinity and self-obliteration are two main recurring themes in Kusama’s work, according to the museum, which highlights his obsessive patterns of dots and webs that cover surfaces, as well as mirrors that create dizzying displays of repetition.

Its Infinity Mirror Rooms and large-scale installations overwhelm and encompass every room they are in, including the two new installations created specifically for this Israeli retrospective. One is a hot pink gallery with black polka dot inflatables that dominate like tentacles or tails that rise into the sky.

Yayoi Kusama Accumulation of Stardust, 2001 acrylic on canvas, three panels Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Matsumoto Japan © YAYOI KUSAMA

The exhibition is organized in chronological order beginning with the first works displayed in the Main Building that Kusama created in his hometown from 1934 to 1957. These are followed by innovative works produced after moving to New York. The section further features Kusama’s exhibitions in Europe in the 1960s and his performances and films, as well as his return to painting in the 1970s and 1980s. His famous pumpkin motif is highlighted here, including the 2015 Infinity Room. : The spirits of the pumpkins descended to the skies.

infinite room
Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field, 1965 Installation, mixed media © YAYOI KUSAMA Courtesy: Ota Fine Arts; Victoria Miro; David zwirner

The viewer crosses the bridge between the museum’s historic building and the Amir building to see the two new installations and can then take a look at an entire gallery dedicated to an ongoing series of paintings that Kusama has been working on since 2009. Seven of those paintings were painted last year, offering insight into his current creative phase

Tickets for the Yayoi Kusama retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art are sold out until November and most of December. with only a few remaining. Tickets are also available from January to April 2022.

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