26 August 2016 | 21 °C

Art Review: Yayoi Kusama @ Tate Modern

Art Review: Yayoi Kusama @ Tate Modern
The Passing Winter 2005 (detail), Tate. Presented by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2008.  © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Yayoi Kusama studio inc.
The Passing Winter 2005 (detail), Tate. Presented by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2008. © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Yayoi Kusama studio inc.
Self-Obliteration No.2 1967. © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc
Self-Obliteration No.2 1967. © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc
Yayoi Kusama 1965. Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo. © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Yayoi Kusama studio inc.
Yayoi Kusama 1965. Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo. © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Yayoi Kusama studio inc.
Kusama posing in Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show 1963. Installation view, Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York. © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc
Kusama posing in Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show 1963. Installation view, Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York. © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc

Yayoi Kusama is renowned for her repeating polka dot patterns, whether in paintings, on walls or over naked bodies. This exhibition is a retrospective that charts Kusama’s development from her early Dali-esque landscapes through to the larger installations that she is famous for.

The art itself is a reflection of Kusama’s personal growth. It starts off as introspective and disturbing, expressing the self-doubt that she felt at the beginning of her career; but as Kusama became more confident her works adopted simpler forms and bolder colours.

At first, the curation attempts to provide some background on Kusama’s journey, transporting you into her mindset, moving through all the phases of her career and the techniques she experimented with. The finishes with a flourish by displaying her latest and most impressive installations and paintings.

Her works are most arresting when they are on a large scale such as the sculpture titled ‘Heaven and Earth’ that was created with everyday items but appears like it is a living entity whose grasp you want to avoid.

The highlight of the exhibition is the two rooms designed by Kusama – it’s only when you are surrounded by her repeating patterns that you realise what it’s like to be immersed in her hallucinatory and fantastical world, where there is a constant struggle between light and dark. You will leave these rooms hoping that Kusama will design a house one day, and believing that if she did it would be a cross between Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and a haunted house.

The Tate Modern has done an excellent job of charting the career of one of the world’s most eccentric and imaginative living artists whilst showcasing some of her greatest works.

Yayoi Kusama is on at the Tate Modern until 5 June. Admission is £10, concessions available.

Last Updated 16 July 2015

Tabish Khan

Article by Tabish Khan | 910 articles | View Profile | Twitter

me

a bit disappointed by the exhibition...

Tabish Khan

Even the two rooms?  They were inspiring!