Kusama’s opening night at the TA art museum takes viewers back to childhood

I was one of the lucky ones who were invited to the opening night of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art last week, gathering works of art produced over a period of 80 years.

Kusama is well known for its use of dense patterns of polka dots and webs, as well as its intense and large-scale environments.

Ranked as one of the best and largest art exhibitions of 2021, I was very excited to learn that it would be coming to Israel, as the last time I saw Kusama’s art was two years ago on the island of Naoshima in the south of Japan.

Since the pandemic, tourism has come to a complete halt and entering the Land of the Rising Sun remains a challenge.

“The public is thirsty for quality exciting experiences, particularly now, in the post-COVID-19 period with all its difficulties,” said Tania Coen-Uzzielli, director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Yayoi Kusama in a photograph taken by Yusuke Miyazaki (Credit: YAYOI KUSAMA OTA FINE ARTS VICTORIA MIRO DAVID ZWIRNER)

Kusama has worked with numerous mediums, such as painting, collage, sculpture, video, performance, installation, fashion, literature and music, and also made two new monuments that were created specifically for the current exhibition.

And actually when I entered the museum I could feel the anticipation.

It was not a normal night, Yayoi Kusama is one of the most creative and important artists of our time.

Food and drink were plentiful and excited guests held up their glasses as they talked about the countries in which they last saw Kusama’s works. Then, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Japan’s Ambassador Koichi Mizushima introduced the people who worked behind the scenes to make the event possible, officially opening the exhibition.

And then the fun began. People wandered around the grand museum taking selfies and filming videos (she’s the most tagged artist on social media after all), observing the obsessive patterns of dots and webs that cover surfaces with incessant repetition, blurring the boundaries between the figure and the world around. It looked like a large-scale amusement park designed for adults only.

Kusama tells the story of how when she was a little girl she had a hallucination that scared her. She was in a field of flowers when everyone started talking to her. The flower heads were like dots that stretched as far as she could see, and she felt like she was disappearing, or as she calls it “self-erasing” – in this endless dotted field. This strange experience influenced most of his later works. By adding marks and dots to her paintings, drawings, objects, and clothing, she feels as if she is making them (and herself) merge and become part of the larger universe.

As I walked through the long (and extremely colorful) corridors I felt that something at those points makes people revert to a childish state, the bright colors and large scale of the monuments definitely resemble something surreal from my childhood, something naive, happy and secure. .

I can’t help but wonder, is this Kusama’s secret?

It reminds us all that deep down we are just kids looking to have fun.


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