Sunday, January 12, 2014

Suspended in a beautiful cosmos

For the last round of 52 Weeks of Art, I focused primarily on art of ages past. It's been an exciting change to be compelled to be sharing so many contemporary artists with you all - Truly living legends in their respective  avenues. The following artist is no exception.

Yayoi Kusama - The Princess of Polka Dots 
(March 22, 1929 - Present)
Photo from
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese avant-garde artist whose style and works oftentimes defy linear categorization. Kusama-san has produced paintings, sculptures, installations, performance art, and collages, in addition to her efforts in writing, film, and fashion. Her work has been described as abstract, minimalist, feminist, abstract expressionist, pop art, Art Brut, and surrealist. She is an artist of many talents and has influenced other names such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenberg.

When considering Kusama-san and her incredible breadth of work (across a career that easily exceeds 50 years in duration), I could probably dedicate an entire blog just to her. But for now, let's start small. I came across Kusama-san's work thanks to a Buzzfeed article on Dream Art Installations you want to live in. Specifically, this referred to a relatively recent artistic installation series by Kusama-san: Infinity Rooms.

Photo from The Creators Project 
The "Infinity Rooms" pictured in this post are specifically those created for the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, New York ("Fireflies on the Water," 2002 - Pictured above) and the Tate Modern in London, UK ("Filled with the Brilliance of Life," 2012 - Pictured below). David Zwirner Gallery in NYC hosted what I understand to be the latest Infinity Room installation, "I who have arrived in Heaven," which concluded December 21, 2013.

First time I saw these photographs, I couldn't believe it. It's like the viewer is suspended in an infinite alternate reality filed with nothing but stars. Gorgeous, glittering stars. My husband equated it to looking like the Matrix. Trebuchet Magazine described the Tate Modern Infinity Room as 'akin to being suspended in a beautiful cosmos gazing at infinite worlds, or like a tiny dot of fluorescent plankton in an ocean of glowing microscopic life.'

Photo from
Infinity Rooms are made from a series of strategically placed mirrors, colored, low light LEDs, and in the case of the Whitney's exhibition, water. The LEDs pulse and change color, contributing to a feeling of transience and spell-binding awe.

Go figure - Only a few ingredients can make an astronomical impact. On a typical day, over 2,500 people visited the Zwirner Gallery's installation.

Kusama-san is known as the "Princess of Polka Dots" for her frequent inclusion of the dots throughout her art work (and wardrobe, as pictured above). Known to have obsessive compulsive tendencies, it almost without saying that the repetition of strategically placed dots is therapeutic for the artist. 

In her words, "a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement... Polka dots are a way to infinity."

What are these Infinity Room lights if not a reinvented version of polka dots, bringing a new sense of calm and infinity to the viewer? 

Photo from Isabelle OC
"Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?
- Morpheus, The Matrix

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