A career-spanning survey of work by leading contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama opens at GOMA in November. ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’, co-curated by QAGOMA and National Gallery Singapore, is a wonderful journey through key moments in Kusama’s vast artistic career over seven decades. Now in her late 80s, Kusama is one of the most recognisable artists working today.
The survey explores key motifs in Kusama’s work since the early 1950s, her engagement with the body, and her expansive conception of space. It includes more than 70 works: early painterly experiments, a multi-decade presentation of the celebrated ‘net’ paintings, soft-sculpture and assemblage, performance documents, iconic ‘infinity rooms’ and large-scale installations from later in her career.
The exhibition culminates in an immersive presentation of Kusama’s most recent paintings from the visually arresting ‘My Eternal Soul’ series (2009 – ongoing). When Kusama began her epic painting series in 2009, she initially intended it to comprise 100 canvases. Still ongoing, the series of works now includes more than 500 paintings, 24 of the very newest of which are featured in the exhibition.
‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ also includes two artworks by Kusama commissioned for the Gallery’s 2002 Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Narcissus garden 1966/2002 returns to the QAG Watermall while the Children’s Art Centre at GOMA presents the hugely popular interactive installation The obliteration room 2002–ongoing, a work that has been displayed at over 21 venues in 15 countries, and viewed by more than 5 million people.
QAGOMA’s long-standing relationship with Kusama and her Tokyo-based studio was established in 1989 when she participated in the exhibition ‘Japanese Ways, Western Means’ at QAG. Kusama’s practice was then the subject of an in-depth focus in ‘The 4th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT4) in 2002-03, and in 2011-12 a solo exhibition of her new and recent work ‘Look Now, See Forever’ was presented at GOMA.
Now, ‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ offers a great overview of Kusama’s long and productive career, from the 1950s to today, drawing on QAGOMA’s holdings as well as collections in Japan and South-East Asia.
Feature image: Yayoi Kusama in front of Life is the Heart of a Rainbow (2017) ©YAYOI KUSAMA, Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro, London, David Zwirner, New York.