Infinite Reflections: the Art of Yayoi Kusama

From the peephole of “Infinity Mirrored Room — Love Forever,” Yayoi Kusama Exhibit, Seattle Art Museum

I tickled my calendar months ago when I first heard that the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) was going to host an exhibit, “Infinity Mirrors,” by Yayoi Kusama.  I was fortunate to get two free museum passes for its opening day on June 30th from the Seattle Public Library’s Museum Pass Program.  However, I missed getting advance timed tickets to the mirror rooms, so my friend Carol and I stood in line for an hour before SAM opened so that we could snag one of the limited number of tickets given out each day on a first-come, first-served basis.  Our luck was with us, and we got some of the first batch of timed tickets of the day.

I first became aware of Kusama’s art when I stumbled upon another of her shows at a New York art gallery.  You can see my write-up about that experience here.  Back then, I stood in line for entry to the sole Infinity Mirror room, and my 45-second time allotment with her installation was worth every minute of waiting.

The SAM exhibit featured four Infinity Mirror rooms, and we were allotted just 20 or 30 seconds per room in groups of two or three.  I loved how Kusama riffed on the theme of infinity in unique ways in each room.  One featured soft fabric “tubers” in white with red polka dots.  Very playful.

Infinity Mirror room — “Phall’s Field,” 1965

The second room — “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” — was a light show with golden bulbs strung against a deep black background; it gave intimations of a sky full of stars reflected on black water.  The lighting was choreographed and ever changing as we stood in awe.

The third room — “All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” — was filled with soft, rotund fabric pumpkins of various sizes, all covered in black polka dots and reflected endlessly in mirrors.

The fourth “room” was the interior of a giant pink fabric balloon.  Again, it was covered in polka dots and mirrors reflected the joyous airy balls to infinity.

“Dots Obsession — Love Transformed into Dots”

There was an interactive art installation, “The Obliteration Room,” where we were invited to stick colored dots onto the white surfaces of the walls and furnishings.  As the exhibit runs its course, more and more of the white surfaces will be covered or obliterated.

“The Obliteration Room”

The rest of the exhibit featured more of Kusama’s sculptures, paintings and peepholes.  I loved the play of light and mirrors, the joyful colors, and the variety.

From the peephole of a polka-dot balloon

“Not in the frantic shapes of new fashion,
not in the shapes borrowed from others —
perfection is simply being natural,
perfection is the breath of the earth.

Don’t torment yourself that art is secondary,
destined only to reflect,
that is remains so limited and lean,
compared with nature itself.

Without acting a part,
look to yourself for the sources of art,
and quietly and uniquely
reproduce yourself just as you are.

Be reflected, as a creation of nature
bending over a well
draws the reflection of its face
up from the ice-ringed depths.
— Excerpt from “Perfection,” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

 

 

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