Friday, March 23, 2012

London: The Yayoi Kusuma Exhibition

Life is very busy here at Fashion, Art and Other Fancies this week. We are at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastrich swanning from paintings to antique furniture.

Earlier this month we introduced our new Editor-in Chief, Olivia La Brooy. This week we are leaving you with her review of the Yayoi Kusuma Exhibition at the Tate Modern in London.

I headed over to the Tate this afternoon to take a look at the Yayoi Kusuma exhibition. Supported by Louis Vuitton, the exhibition of Yayoi Kusuma is perhaps Japan’s best known living artist. Set over 14 separate rooms this exhibitions shows since the 1940’s how Kusuma has worked obsessively, developing an extensive body of work that encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing and collage as well as the immersive large scale installations for which she is best known.

A career that has lasted more than 60 years has been represented by a selection of work in this exhibition. We start off with the early paintings dating back to 1929 that are distinctly seen as being a Japanese style of painting. These works of art were very conventional and it was not until later in Yayoi Kusuma’s career that we start to see how she taught herself the European and American avant-garde style.

All the paintings from her early work were on paper using ink, pastel, watercolour, gouache and tempera. They testify to the artist’s constant exploration of form and colour. Her works have a construction of eyes, dots, spiky networks of cilia and tadpole-like forms that suggest spermatozoa. Moving on to the 1950’s her paintings lean more towards large scale canvases that became known as the Infinity Net paintings; Scalloped brushstrokes of a single colour on a contrasting background.

Moving on to a room showing her famous sex and food obsession sculptures, Kusama covers the surfaces of a range of domestic objects such as furniture, clothing and accessories with stuffed fabric phalli. I felt transformed into a surreal dreamlike world in which an internal obsession is projected into the physical realm.­­­­­­­

I found Kusama’s self-obliteration of painting polka dots on each other’s bodies fascinating and used on everything from animals to plants and finally a naked male body with polka dots and leaves.

The next room showed her installations which involved a traditional living room lit by UV lighting and covered in fluorescent sticker spots which were wildly glowing, this was beautiful. It is said that the obsession with the polka dots can be portrayed as being a visualshorthand signifying her hallucinatory visions. I feel that this room may be an attempt to re-stage the experience of her own hallucinatory episodes.

This is a fascinating exhibition allowing you to take a glimpse into a world of such an extraordinary artist. The boldness with such interesting and intense interpretation is a joy to experience and be assured that you will be transformed into Kusama’s world.

The last room was my favourite. I adore ‘moving’ art and this infinity mirrored room was filled with the brilliance of life and created especially for the exhibition so if you are in London, you must take a look! This is Kusama’s largest installation to date and the construction involves a dark room with long circular lights hanging from the ceiling. The lights are multi coloured and change frequently. I felt transformed into a world of bright colour!

The exhibition runs until the 5th of June 2012 and I would advise anyone and everyone who loves colour and those who want to learn more about another culture to attend.

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Opening hours
Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–18.00
Last admission to special exhibitions at 17.15

By telephone
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7887 8888
Monday – Friday, 09.00–18.00

Written by our new Editor-in Chief Olivia La Brooy.

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