“MY ETERNAL SOUL”: NEW PAINTINGS By Yayoi Kusama
Visionary new works from the avant-garde Japanese artist's largest ongoing series
1 Jul 2016
Surreal and cosmic, avant-garde octogenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is well known for her prolific visionary art. In a new exhibition at London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, pumpkin sculptures and mirror rooms are presented alongside new paintings from the important ongoing series “My Eternal Soul” at the gallery’s Mayfair site.
Kusama’s “My Eternal Soul” series began in 2009 and has since grown to become one of the largest series she has ever created in her entire career. “I want to paint 1000 and 2000 paintings. I want to keep painting even after I died,” says Kusama of the series. Using repeatedly her earlier motifs such as dots and nets, Kusama paints fluidly and instinctually, improvising and mixing the figurative and abstract images on canvas, and fusing vibrant and energetic colours with metallic pigments.
Since her emergence in New York’s art scene in the Sixties, Kusama’s work has spoken of love, freedom, and consciousness, whether it be from her net style paintings, immersive installations or “happenings”. When asked of the significance of the “My Eternal Love” series of paintings, Kusama responded: “The world today is in a terrible situation. My desire to use my art to protest against war and man’s inhumanity to man has never diminished. I am always trying to transmit through my work the message that we should all live life in peace and with humanitarian love.”
As always, Kusama’s work resists categorisation to a single style – whether it be Surrealism, Minimalism, Pop art, the Zero and Nul movements, Eccentric Abstraction and Feminist art, and testifies to Kusama’s unique practice. With “My Eternal Soul”, the visions translated onto canvases by Kusama recall most notably the visual language of the traditional Aboriginal Dreamtime dot paintings, a parallel which has rarely been evoked in the art world (Western-centrism of contemporary art, anyone?). Since time immemorial, indigenous artists have been painting ancestral mythological stories and visions across canvases or in the sand. Much indigenous art is intended to have a sacred and healing power, not unlike Kusama’s work and philosophy.
Kusama lives and works in Tokyo. Yayoi Kusama is currently the subject of a museum tour throughout Northern Europe, from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, (2015-2016) to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo (2016); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2016) and Helsinki Art Museum (2016-2017).
Yayoi Kusama’s “My Eternal Soul” paintings are on view in London at Victoria Miro gallery as part of Yayoi Kusama: sculptures, paintings & mirror rooms until July 30 2016.
Text Sophie Pinchetti