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"Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity" (2009); Mixed media installation
(163.5 x 163.5 x 113.25 inches / 415 x 415 x 287.4 cm)
Courtesy of Yayoi Kusama and Gagosian Gallery
In celebration of Yayoi Kusama's eightieth year, Gagosian Gallery is presenting two major interrelated exhibitions of her recent work in New York and Los Angeles. The exhibitions will overlap to provide a bi-coastal overview of the renowned doyenne of the international art world.
For this two-part exhibition, which has been several years in the making, Kusama has conceived some astonishing new works, such as Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity (2009), a mesmerizing "infinity room" that operates on a system of simple yet ingenious optical devices. In a dark void, a delicate, shimmering mirage unfolds around the viewer, a myriad of gleaming lights that reproduce and reflect endlessly upon each other in golden silence. Titles of recent figurative paintings, in which worms, eyes, and other more indeterminate biomorphic forms abound, reflect a preoccupation with mortality, as well as with enlightenment, solitude, nothingness, and the mysteries of the physical and metaphysical universe. And, among all these spirited emanations, the sublime Infinity Net paintings -- from austere achromes to vibrant psychedelic contrasts -- continue to depict the undepictable in a steady, insistent pulse.
Kusama produced her first huge paintings as a young, struggling artist in New York in the late fifties, who often skipped meals and sleep in her incessant drive to cover the vast canvases with uneven tracts of small, thickly painted loops. The inherent philosophical paradox of these works -- that "infinity" could be quantified within the arbitrary framework of a readymade canvas — combined with the more subjective and obsessional implications of their process, distinguished them from the Minimalist abstraction that would dominate the local scene several years later. Kusama's own insistent psychosomatic associations further reinforced their transcendent space and quality. Today she composes the Infinity Net paintings as isotropic fields filled with fairly evenly painted elements.
Following the success of the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1993 -- a dazzling mirrored room filled with small pumpkin sculptures in which she resided in color-coordinated magician's attire -- Kusama went on to produce a huge, yellow pumpkin sculpture covered with an optical pattern of black spots. The pumpkin came to represent for her a kind of alter-ego or self-portrait. Recent pumpkin sculptures will be shown in New York for the first time, in a specifically designed, optical environment.(read less)
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