Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life

Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life is showing at David Zwirner Galleries at 525 and 533 West 19th Street through December 16th.

Two major concurrent exhibitions of recent work by Yayoi Kusama are on view across three gallery spaces in New York: We viewed Festival of Life at 525 and 533 West 19th Street in Chelsea. The exhibit features sixty-six paintings from her iconic My Eternal Soul series, new large-scale flower sculptures, a polka-dotted environment, and two Infinity Mirror Rooms in the Chelsea locations.

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama briefly studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. She began her large-scale infinity net paintings during this decade, and went on to apply their obsessive, hallucinatory qualities to three-dimensional work. Kusama’s work—which spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures—possesses a highly personal character, yet one that has connected profoundly with large audiences around the globe.

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At 533, the 66 paintings are presented in a tight grid covering the entirety of four walls in one of the largest configurations ever executed by the artist. With bright colors, Kusama uses similar palettes and themes (faces, eyes) repeatedly throughout the series.

Placed within the vibrant, immersive environment created by the paintings, Kusama’s new stainless steel sculptures depict individual flowers featuring the artist’s distinctive bold palette and polka dots. Made from stainless steel and covered with urethane paint, their exaggerated features and horizontal orientation make them a playful counterbalance to the paintings. This gallery has open admission and is untimed (so there are no lines).

Next door at 525 Kusama debuts two new Infinity Mirror Rooms, one which invites the viewer to look inside through three peepholes, and another which can be experienced from within. In the former, miniature light bulbs in changing colors reveal a hexagonal pattern that is mirrored endlessly.

The latter envelops the visitor inside a large mirrored room with stainless steel balls suspended from the ceiling and arranged on the floor; an enclosed column within the room offers yet another mirrored environment accessible through peepholes. A sense of infinity is offered through the play of reflections between the circular shapes and the surrounding mirrors. Guests are allowed in to this room four at a time and can only be inside for a minute.

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The third space at 525 houses With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011), a sculptural installation—shown for the first time in the United States—in which oversized flower-potted tulips in fiberglass-reinforced plastic are painted with the same red polka dots as the floor, ceiling, and walls, creating an all-enveloping viewing experience while at the same time diminishing the appearance of depth.
Lines for this part of the exhibit have been quite long on certain days so follow @davidzwirner on Twitter to stay up to date. Also the galleries are closed on Mondays. More info here:

https://www.davidzwirner.com/news/plan-your-visit-yayoi-kusama-festival-life

A second Kusama exhibit, Infinity Nets, is on display at the recently opened space on 34 East 69th Street on the Upper East Side. Word has it that this location is not as highly trafficked so if you want to say you saw the exhibit without waiting in line…

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