What I really love about Yayoi Kusama is her story. A story of the underdog, a lone Japanese woman who comes to New York in the 1950s, struggles as an artist, her work is copied by Andy Warhol and other white, male artists who go on to become famous art icons. Battling depression, defeated, she leaves New York in the 70s only to be completely forgotten.
But her return to the art world was nothing short of triumphant, when at the age of 85 she is crowned the most expensive living female artist, selling her White No. 28 painting for $7.1 million. If you’re not yet familiar with her story, Kusama: Infinity is an excellent documentary that follows the ups and downs of her life and career.
The new Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern is mainly focused on two of her iconic infinity mirror rooms, which are the epitome of what contemporary immersive art is all about. Filled with the Brilliance of Life makes a comeback since the 2012 Tate retrospective and is perhaps the public’s most beloved of her works. For a brief 2 minutes you can lose yourself in Kusama’s dream-like vision, surrounded by colourful fairy lights reflected in all directions over and over and over again.
The Chandelier of Grief is an equally dazzling piece, with a Swarovski crystal chandelier at its centre inside another mirrored room, giving the impression of being in a grand, opulent ballroom. The exhibition is also accompanied by a number of portrait’s of Kusama and pictures of her at work.
In many ways this is Kusama’s time. In the age of camera phones and Instagram her work has found the perfect audience. Taking something as simple as dots and mirrors and elevating them to the level of striking creations that capture the imagination of overstimulated international audiences is an art in and of itself. Now, at the age of 92, her obsessive compulsion to craft the world inside her mind remains unshaken and undoubtably will be welcomed in London for years to come.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms exhibition is on at the Tate Modern until 24th October 2021. Find more info here.