Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years @ City Gallery, Wellington

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years @ City Gallery, Wellington. (Photos of the exhibition here)
Best exhibition I've ever been to. Hands down. For the pure euphoria and childlike state that her work induces, with just a hint of the darkness of the artist's neurosis and troubled past. There's a really good article on Kusama from the UK's Guardian here.

I'm not sure which work was my favourite.
Of the Dots Obsession, Day and Night installations, I liked the night room better. The yellow room was playful and childlike and exciting, but I felt like the black room was more effective. After visiting them both a couple of times, I figured out that it was an aesthetic issue that was making the dark room more appealing for me: the shadows of the amorphous blobs in both rooms were casting non circular shadows on the floor.
In the yellow room, the shadows disrupted the uniformity of the dots far more so than in the black room, where the shadows merely gave weight to the shapes.

Although I still found the yellow room much more playful, I think there's a darker side to me that appreciated the more sinister yellow dots on black. It reminded me of wasps. The two worked so well together, though, and it seemed to be a very good expression of that bipolar nature that Kusama seems to have. The convex mirrored hallway leading up to both rooms was amazingly effective, with the reflections of the installations adding another element; the circular mirrors continuing the patterns, yet changing them and providing new perspectives from which to view the work.

The firefly room, OH MY GOD. Sorry, slightly carried away. But it was so surreal. It was like you were floating in the blackness of someone elses consciousness.... seriously. The experience is enhanced by the fact that there is a maximum of 3 viewers allowed in the room at any one time. I was very glad to be in there with my partner because going alone would have been almost too overwhelming.

The rest of the works were equally as impressive, and the overview of her life's work was just staggering, both in the amount of work produced and the depth of it. The documentary in the auditorium was also worth watching, and really gave you an insight to how she thinks and where she's come from to be making art the way that she does.

Quite interesting too, because I can still understand a lot of the Japanese, that the translations, although correct to the nearest natural English, do not quite cover all the unexpressed sentiments.

Overall, an awesome exhibition. Well worth the $8 to get in. I'd go again.

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