Walking past the Victoria Miro gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach, it is impossible to miss the Yayoi Kusama sculpture right at the entrance. Intrigued by the colorful work we entered the gallery, and there we saw it – the rich red and antique gold painting by Yayoi Kusama. Glenn Scott Wright, Director of Victoria Miro Gallery talked to galleryIntell about the painting and Yayoi Kusama’s influence on the commercial art world through the Marc Jacobs / Louis Vuitton collaboration in particular. The luxury fashion label showcased Kusama’s work in 450 stores worldwide, collaborating with the artist on the design installations in 1600 Louis Vuttion retail windows. Her designs, mostly either polka dots or infinity nets, immediately engage the viewer. The colors that peep out from the negative spaces between curving, flowing lines lure the eyes to follow the pattern. Interestingly, in some places, she abruptly drops the flow of the pattern, only to restart it in a smooth caressing move with the next line.
Kusama is one of Japan’s most important contemporary artists. Her influences are many and varied – ranging from her childhood hallucinations to World War II, from her Japanese heritage to American culture. Earlier this year, she was the subject of a major retrospective organized by the Tate Modern, London. The exhibition traveled first from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía tothe Centre Pompidou in Paris; from there to the Tate Modern in London, and finally to the Whitney Museum of Art in New York in the fall of 2012.
Full of hypnotic curves and seductive lines, the painting is obsessive in a way and contemplative in another. It is meditative in a way, and an art statement in another. What it most definitely is, viewed any way, is quintessentially Kusama!
Glenn Scott Wright: I’m Glenn Scott Wright, I’m the Director of the Victoria Miro gallery in London and we are at Art Basel Miami Beach, showing the work of a number of gallery artists, including Yayoi Kusama. This painting we have here is called “Petal God”. This is a painting she did this year and this is an amalgamation of two themes she uses in her work – the infinity nets and the dots. So here you see both of them merging in this single painting. Kusama has just been the subject of a major retrospective organized by Tate Modern, which started last year at the Reina Sofia in Madrid then went to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern earlier this year and then the Whitney Museum in New York. The last exhibition finished just a couple of months ago. At the same time she’s done this enormous collaboration with Louis Vuitton, which showcased her work all over the world in 450 stores with 1600 windows where she dressed the windows with her artwork. She’s worked with a number of different motives and she’s worked with painting, with sculpture, with performance, with sound even, so she is someone who has many strings to her bow, if you’d like. Two of the things that people always recognize with her are the infinity nets and the dots, and as I was saying earlier, you can see both of these coming together in this painting.
Interview © galleryIntell. Artwork © Yayoi Kusama, and courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London.