Reflecting on (and in) Yayoi Kusama at the Hirshhorn


That arc is then illustrated in the 5 works on display screen, which comprise a tidy summary of Kusama’s evolving follow. Indeed, quite a few of her abiding interests are already implicit in The Hill, 1953 A (No. 30) a compact painting executed soon soon after her to start with solo present. A swarm of stippled dots partly obscures a central band that characteristics six wobbly traces comprised of wedge-like varieties, which meander throughout the composition.

Evoking both equally a quiet, nocturnal landscape and an enlargement of a capillary or a tree’s fibrous cell, the painting thus implies two irreconcilable scales. Moreover, though the irregular dots and triangles embody a tender handmadeness, they also speak to the artist’s hard work to approach her stress and anxiety and recurring psychotic episodes by sheer repetition: a tactic that would soon develop into central to Kusama’s observe.

Yayoi Kusama, The Hill, 1953 A (No. 30), 1953

In the subsequent space, Pumpkin, a 2016 piece, represents the maturation of those people concepts. During a childhood trip to a seed-harvesting floor, Kusama was evidently struck by what she would later on call the “solid spiritual balance” of a pumpkin this sizable piece is one particular in a series of subsequent odes to the fruit. It is also, though, a charming riff on the dour seriousness of Minimalist works. Like, say, Walter De Maria’s Cage II, Pumpkin is somewhat taller than us and it sits right on the gallery floor, in the center of the space. Exactly used rows of acrylic dots line its folds, in an exacting geometry. But the emphatically representational facet, the softly natural and organic curves, and the lively yellow-orange incorporate to create an endearing strength: some thing nearer to Totero than Tony Smith.

Drift through the subsequent transitional area (which capabilities a modest slide clearly show and a forgettable inspirational poem that Kusama penned in the early times of Covid), and you arrive at the to start with infinity mirror space. Step inside the brightly lit, windowless container, and you are surrounded by a bevy of handsewn tubular types included in red polka dots and mirrored in the room’s mirrored walls.

Are these phallic forms disturbing symbols of masculine aggression? personal items of craft and treatment? Critical reactions have varied. Irrespective, the electricity of the area principally resides in the relationship in between the idea of self-obliteration and the use of mirrored repetition. As we see our individual picture multiplied, our incredibly perception of self is eroded: a familiar stress, perhaps, in this era of virtual copy and self-advertising.



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