Infinity finds corners and edges at Yayoi Kusama’s eponymous solo exhibition with London’s Victoria Miro—which spans both Wharf Road and Mayfair spaces—offering an intimacy that is not always present in the artist’s work. Perhaps, infinity has an end afterall.
For previous guests of Kusama’s major 2012 Tate Modern exhibition, this work will touch on the unfamiliar. There, infinity was vast, expansive, and, a group experience. At Victoria Miro, Kusama’s three mirrored rooms offer an enclosed sense of infinity, each smallish box attracting a constant queue as visitors are allowed in one by one, for one minute each.
Standing alone in these boxes, one experiences a new side to the work. It allows for a clear stretch of infinity, where you alone are the human presence. The sense of ‘shattered ego’ that is intended in these works, the person falling into many fragments, is effective when it is purely your own self that is being shattered. In these boxes you can view yourself as others see you, in an ego-crushing manner that isn’t too dissimilar to the horrific experience of 360-degree changing room mirrors that, let’s face it, everyone fears. My nose is how big in profile?
But the smaller size of these rooms also leads to a greater sense of enclosure than the artist’s larger spaces. The illusion is not quite fully convincing, lines and edges can be spotted in the expansive view; there is an infinity there, but it is not true infinity. Perhaps, it is a personal infinity, stretching on and on around the self, but not quite finding itself flowing right out into the dark unknown.
Of course, pumpkins make many an appearance. The first floor of Wharf Road holds three sturdy sculptures of the spooky veg–as fast as Kusama produces these pumpkins, they seem to remain eternally amusing and novel–and the most captivating, and playful, of the three rooms, All The Love I Have For Pumpkins. In this room perhaps we take on a little of the artist’s ego too, finding ourselves overwhelmed by her instantly recognisable aesthetic; of course we’re automatically driven to reach for the iPhone to snap a quick selfie–ego shattered or not.
The artist’s sense of play in these works finds a sense of control in her Infinity Nets paintings, of which there are many on the second floor at Wharf Road. The works are precisely formed from small loops of paint, mirroring the artists obsession with natural patterns, in particular those from pumpkins. The Mayfair space also shows paintings, from Kusama’s My Eternal Soul series. In all, this is a varied and pretty thorough exhibition of the artist’s work, of which we already know so much, but are always willing to know a little more.
Yayoi Kusama is showing at Victoria Miro until 30 July. All images Courtesy KUSAMA Enterprise, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London © Yayoi Kusama