For almost seventy years Yayoi Kusama has developed a practice that, though it shares affiliations with Surrealism, Minimalism, Pop Art, the Zero and Nul movements, Eccentric Abstraction and Feminist art, it resists any singular classification. Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, she studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York in the late 1950s, and by the mid-1960s she became well known in the avant-garde world for her provocative happenings and exhibitions. Since that time, Kusama’s extraordinary artistic endeavours have spanned over painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation and environmental art as well as literature, fashion (most notably in her 2012 collaboration with Louis Vuitton) and product design.
An enduring feature of Kusama’s unique art is the intricate lattice of paint that covers the surface of her Infinity Net canvases, the negative spaces between the individual loops of these all-over patterns emerging as delicate polka dots. These motifs have their roots in hallucinations from which she has suffered since childhood, in which the world appears to her to be covered with proliferating forms. From these to Accumulation sculptures, where everyday objects are made uncanny with a covering of soft-sculpture phallic forms or dried macaroni, to monumental outdoor sculptures, and the entrancing illusions of recent experiential mirrored room installations, Kusama’s work is far-reaching, expansive and immersive. Simultaneously infinitesimal and unlimited in scale, it allows the viewer to enter a fully realised world.Kusama represented Japan at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, and currently lives and works in Tokyo. The artist is also the subject of a major international museum tour throughout Northern Europe, from Louisiana’s Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, (2015 – 2016) to Henie Onstad Kunstcenter, Oslo (2016); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2016) and Helsinki Art Museum (2016 – 2017).
Recent touring exhibitions include Kusama Yayoi: A Dream I Dreamed, which was first presented at the Daegu Art Museum, Korea (2013) and travelled subsequently to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2013 – 2014); Seoul Arts Centre, Korea (2014); Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2015) and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung (2015). The widely acclaimed Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession Toured from 2013 to 2015 at the South American institutional venues of Malba – FundaciónCostantini, Buenos Aires (2013); Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (2013 – 2014); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2014); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2014 – 2015) and FundaciónCorpArtes, Santiago (2015). Previously, from 2012 to 2014 the large-scale exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Eternity of Eternal Eternity was staged in museums in Japan including The National Museum of Art, Osaka; Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Matsumoto; Niigata City Art Museum, Niigata; Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Shizuoka; Oita Art Museum, Oita; The Museum of Art, Kochi; Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto; Akita Senshu Museum of Art, Akita and Matsuzakaya Museum, Nagoya. A touring retrospective of the artist’s work was presented from 2011 – 2012 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Other previous significant surveys include Mirrored Years, which travelled from the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand from 2008 – 2009. Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity was presented at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2004), and The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan (2005).