Yayoi Kusama Comes to the Broad

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Japanese conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama’s much-anticipated survey has landed at The Broad. Infinity Mirrors presents six of her signature infinity chambers, as well as poignant meditations on love, death, sexuality, and the afterlife.

Now 88 years old, Kusama has been creating these enveloping rooms filled with lights and polka-dotted sculptures since 1965. Her first foray into this form offers a heartfelt look into the artist’s background and lifelong fears. In “Phalli’s Field,” the floor is strewn with soft, hand-sewn phallic forms. Resembling stuffed animals, they point to a loss of childhood innocence. This work undoubtedly stems from her relationship with her mother, who would often ask the young Kusama to help her spy on her unfaithful husband.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965. Courtesy of the artist and The Broad.

Polka dots later take on levity in 2016’s “All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins.” Here, the eye is seduced by speckled gourds reflected a seemingly infinite number of times in the mirrors. Pumpkins have tremendous emotional value for Kusama, as she grew up on a plant nursery and her grandfather would often take her out to play in the pumpkin fields. Her trademark dots have also been a prominent theme for Kusama since childhood. According the the artist, she has seen “flashes of light, auras or dense fields of dots” in her visual field since she was ten years old.

“Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” from 2009, swaps out dots for twinkling lights as she shifts thematically away from the personal to the universal. In other works in this collection, the viewer is the subject, multiplied over and over again in the mirrors, alone in the landscape. The ego is shattered as one contemplates their place on a larger scale. “By obliterating one’s individual self, one returns to the infinite universe,” a wall nearby reads.

Spanning Kusama’s remarkable artistic career, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is so much more than an Instagram post. With its sublime patterns and lights, this exhibition is a monument to the intangible and immortal.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Through January 1, 2018
The Broad
221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Emily Nimptsch

Emily Nimptsch

Emily Nimptsch is a freelance arts and culture writer living in Los Angeles. She has written for Flaunt, ArtSlant, Artillery, and produced blog content for Venice Beach’s L.A. Louver Gallery.