According to gallery employees at David Zwirner, last Friday night’s opening of Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived in Heaven wasn’t just a Reception: it was an Event, complete with a personal appearance by the 84-year old living legend. And yes, she reportedly wore the bright red wig! We are very sorry to have missed that, but we did make it to the much less crowded Zwirner gallery on Saturday to take in I Who Have Arrived in Heaven‘s sculptures, paintings, video installation and one of two mirrored rooms that made our heads explode. The comprehensive exhibit fills all three of Zwirner’s adjoining spaces on West 19th Street, where a feast for the eyes awaits you in every room. It is high-fives all around for Zwirner on their inaugural Kusama exhibit, and if this marks your first exposure to this artist’s heavily psychedelic creations, you are in for a huge treat.
Kusama’s trademark polka dots are evident on two very fun sculptures of flowers growing out of shoes, which are visible from 19th Street. These pieces reminded me of Minnie Mouse on acid. Each flower has a convex mirror at its center so that, if you can get close enough, you can put your face in the flower and trip out.
This exhibition features twenty-seven new large-scale paintings featuring vibrant colors and repetitious patterns. Most are highly detailed and very whimsical in nature.
This shot above will give you an idea of the scale of these canvases. The images and details from this series of paintings reminded me of the artwork from the first Tom Tom Club album (and video for “Genius of Love”) and also from the hyper-violent cartoon series, Super Jail, of which I am a huge fan.
In yet another room, which is book-ended by 12-foot high infinity mirrors, there is a video installation of Yayoi performing her original song, “Manhattan Suicide Addict.” As Yayoi sings the song, which has very beautiful and poetic lyrics, an animated slide show of her selected artworks moves behind her. Geoffrey and I watched it four or five times. It was just insane.
As if all of the sculptures and paintings and videos were not enough to make you squeal, there are also two Infinity-Mirrored Room installations. Yes, I just typed that. Here is what it looks like inside one of them.
This installation is entitled Love Is Calling, and it is comprised of a darkened, mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like forms, which are covered in Kusama’s characteristic polka dots, that extend from floor to ceiling, gradually changing color. Very psychedelic! Simply put, I did not want to leave this room. Of course, there was a line to enter (I can’t even imagine what it was like on opening night) but even though they only let about 6 or 7 people enter at one time, the line moves pretty fast, and it is so totally worth the wait, so don’t get discouraged!
Sadly, a very packed afternoon agenda would not allow us enough wiggle room to wait in the hours-long line to experience the second room, which is the exhibition’s centerpiece, Mirrored Infinity Room: The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. This mirrored, cubed-shaped room features a shallow reflecting pool as its floor. Hundreds of multicolored LED lights are suspended at varying heights and they flicker on and off in a strobe-like effect, producing an intense illumination of the space and a repetitive pattern of reflections that suggest endlessness. WOW. I will be making a return trip to experience that head trip, for sure.
Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived In Heaven will be on exhibit through December 21, 2013 at David Zwirner Galleries, Located at 519, 525 and 533 West 19th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District, New York.