These are some of my photos from the first retrospective of Japanese artist Yayoi Kasuma, from 1950 to 2013, currently on show at the Tomie Ohtake Institute in São Paulo.
I had gone with the intention of this being a photographic opportunity, not having had many chances to really plunge myself into a sensory project. This wash exhibition demanding time, attention and reflection, and it would of course be amazing to take a more contemplative tour.
As it was, the exhibition has drawn vast crowds, so rather that offer too much in the way of as yet unfinished hermeneutical analysis, I offer you more of a visual tour of one of Japan’s great modern artists.
Since 1977 Kusama has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric home, and so her art has to be seen in the context of an artist who is open about her fears, depression and psychological complexes, at times ugly and base, but at other times uplifting and transcendental, as can be seen in her work with light and mirrors.
A maverick painter and sculptor in a wide variety of media, Kusama’s art plunges the spectator into an often shocking and at times mesmerising foray of her seemingly depressive and broken soul, with her neuroses laid bare for all to see.
The exhibition has been a huge success, and after queuing to enter the institute, visitors then have to queue further to enter each section. The Infinity Mirror Room is one of the largest Kusama has constructed to date, although interestingly the psychological focus for me was taken from a contemplation of the internal state of the artist to the myriad of visitors taking selfies on their smart phones. One wonders who has the obsession – artist or visitor?
For me the most compelling piece was one of her series of Infinity Nets paintings. These had an immensely organic feeling in their patterns of simplicity, giving way to a sensors exploration of the patterns within patterns that the minds eye could follow.