Yayoi Kusama exhibition to open in Tel Aviv

A comprehensive exhibition of works by legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama opens next Monday at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, offering near-total immersion in the intensely colorful and personal take on the 92-year-old global phenomenon.

Clients will be able to visit four of Kusama’s infinite rooms, art spaces reflected with poetic names like Phalli’s Field (1965), the first space of its kind, The Spirits of the Pumpkin descended into the skies of 2015, and The Eternally Infinite Light of the Universe. Illuminating the search for truth, created especially for this exhibition. About eight decades of artistic endeavors will be on display, from a drawing Kusama made as a child with her now famous dots, to paintings created for this exhibition.

By crossing the bridge between the two parts of the museum, visitors will move from the earliest works to the most recent. Visitors can also enjoy a Kusama-inspired menu at Pastel, the museum’s restaurant, and watch the 2018 documentary Kusama: Infinity. Also on sale is a Hebrew translation of the 2017 children’s book Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity by art curator Sarah Suzuki.

When Louis Vuitton launched a special collection based on Kusama’s art in 2012, the items sold out within days, Glenn Scott Wright, co-director of the Victoria Miro Gallery, told me. He asked people at the fashion company if they were satisfied with the results and learned that while sales were good, the media exposure his brand gained was the real prize. [The Victoria Miro gallery represents Kusama].

What makes Kusama’s art so powerful? As Wright sees it, “she is one of the few artists capable of embracing both high and low art.” His works are “snapshots,” he suggested, meaning that people can connect with them in an instant, without much preparation.

THE SPIRITS of the Pumpkin descended into heaven in 2015 (credit: YAYOI KUSAMA OTA FINE ARTS VICTORIA MIRO DAVID ZWIRNER)

In a 2019 podcast on Kusama, art dealer David Zwirner invited JiaJia Fei to share his perspective. Fei, who now runs her own digital media agency focused on the art world, said that “the modern museum experience is more about the performance of going to a museum” than, for example, going to a museum to learn. about another civilization.

“Now,” he offered, “it’s about getting that deliverable, photography, and that stimulates all this commitment to go somewhere to live this life that people think you have.” (The 2019 Kusama exhibition Every Day I Pray for Love was shown at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City.)

Visitors to the upcoming Tel Aviv exhibition will be informed that although they can take selfies in the infinite rooms (and tag them #InfiniteKusama, if they wish) they should limit their stay there to 30 seconds. Based on the experience of other Kusama exhibitions, these steps are necessary, as otherwise controlling the audience would be very difficult.

KUSAMA was mentored by artist Georgia O’Keeffe and worked as an artist in 1960s New York, where she mixed with many of the leading figures of the time. Unfortunately, she was often left on the sidelines and faced many difficulties. Finally, he returned to Japan, and in 1977 he voluntarily entered a psychiatric hospital, where he has continued to live and create until today.

This, perhaps, is one more reason why people around the world associate with Kusama. Not only is the art beautiful, but the life story behind it is poignant as well. It contains many familiar themes: the artist is touched by the gods, overcoming difficulties and operating in a different universe than the rest of us. The shift towards female artists and interest in their works have also contributed to its popularity.

Wright had seen Kusama’s art featured in exhibitions for a decade before seeing it during the 1993 Venice Biennale. Kusama, who was excluded from the event in 1966 after a guerilla performance, must have felt vindicated. Wright recalled seeing her “with an artistic pumpkin on her head giving people pumpkins.” Later he would visit her studio and even share cake with her on her birthday.

“I have worked with many artists and she is by far the hardest worker,” he said. “To continue painting at 92 is incredible.”

There is now a waiting list of museums that would be delighted to display Kusama’s work, he said, noting that curator Suzanne Landau, one of the main forces behind this exhibition, is “extremely well known and respected.” He noted that this retrospective was “discussed for about eight years,” making it a game changer.

“Tel Aviv is a small city,” Wright said, “but the Jewish diaspora plays a key role in the art world.” He added that, in his opinion, Tel Aviv “should be much more important” on the world art scene.

Kusama in Israel could be that threshold moment.

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective will open on Monday, November 15 and close on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Suzanne Landau. The exhibition is organized by Gropius Bau, Berlin, in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Opening hours: Monday from noon to 6 pm. Tuesday from 10 a.m. M. A 9 p. Wednesdays from 10 a. M. At 8 p. Thursday from 10 to. M. At 9:00 p. M. Friday from 10 a. M. At 2 p. M. Tickets start at NIS 65. Many dates have already sold out, so book ahead as soon as possible.

Visitors are limited to spending one hour at the exhibition and must arrive at the time selected when they booked the ticket. Visit: https://tickets.tamuseum.org.il/en or call (03) 6077020. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is at 27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard.


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