We only had four hours off the ship to explore Helsinki, Finland, but despite the cold and rainy weather, luck was on our side; as the Universe guided us directly to the foot of Esplanadi Park, the site of Yayoi Kusama’s latest installation of Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees. Holy crap! We had no idea it would be there, but the impossible-to-miss red and white polka dot fabric-wrapped trees screamed “This is a Kusama Thing!” at us from across the road, and we journeyed over to investigate. There are no accidents.
Wrapped Trees with Statue of Eino Leino, Finnish Poet, Bohemian and Journalist
A little bit of Googling gave us additional background on the installation, explaining how, “Part of Esplanadi Park has been utterly transformed. Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees establishes a wonderland in the park, where 20 trees in Theatre Esplanadi are wrapped in Kusama’s signature dotted fabric.” To run concurrently, Kusama’sNarcissus Garden, a well-known work consisting of a thousand mirror-surfaced steel spheres, has also been installed in the Palm Room at Helsinki’sWinter Garden. Kusama offers, “These works have been inspired by beautiful nature and people, and they create communication between nature and living beings. The shining city of Helsinki, as well as the life we wish for, becomes even more beautiful.”
While we found it on Thursday, June 9th, the work was officially unveiled on Helsinki Day, June 12th. It will be on display for all to enjoy until October 9th, 2016. Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees has previously been on show in London, Singapore, Moscow and elsewhere.
I first discovered the decidedly psychedelic work of enigmatic Artist Paul Kolker when Geoffrey and I stumbled upon a previous exhibit, Halftones and Ishidots and just fell in love. I certainly would have taken more/better photos of Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures if I hadn’t already been wasted from all the free wine and beers consumed up to that point on that particular evening’s art crawl. In fact, I had a cold beer firmly clutched in my free hand the entire time I was shooting this art. So, good for me.
In Shade Paintings, the fifty-first of Kolker’s Art as Experiment series of self-curated exhibitions, you will see three light sculptures and fifteen paintings on what Kolker calls memory canvas of woven synthetic fiber hung on a tapestry rod or on remote controlled motorized rollers; the types used in window shade installations or in projector drop down screens. In addition, there is something theatrical about the movement of the shade painting… like a curtain call which serves as an invitation to view the work as performance art.
Here are a trio of the paintings in various stages of receding into their rollers. Everything is on a random timer, so you never know when one of them is going to start moving! This element of the unexpected adds further excitement to the exhibit.
Ishidots Red and Blue
Dripcaustic Memoir Noir
Crossing Tenth Avenue, Solarized
It’s the Highline! I really like this one!
During our visit, a woman walked into the gallery holding a tray of cookies, which she offered to anyone who was game. This one was red velvet with white and dark chocolate chips. Super delicious.
In case you are wondering how an artist can afford to have his own chelsea studio and gallery that exclusively shows his own art, that makes more sense when you know that Paul Kolker is also a Cardiothoracic surgeon. Super handy!
See more Shade Paintings from the exhibit and find out more about Doctor / Artist Paul Kolker at This Link!
Paul Kolker Presents: Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures will be on Exhibit Through March 11th, 2016 at the Paul Kolker Collection, Located at 511 West 25th Street (Lower Level) in the Chelsea Gallery District.
In July of 2012, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama created a full like of Accessories for Louis Vuitton including shoes, sunglasses, hand bags, jewelry, watches, shawls, scarves and beach towels. The Monogram Vernis Dots Infinity Pump, or Minnie Mouse’s Shoe as it is now popularly known, had a retail price tag of $1090 per pair. Yowza.
Yayoi Kusama in a Scene from “Manhattan Suicide Addict” (All Photos By Gail)
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 inI 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.
Detail from Painting Above
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.
Eyes Detail from Painting
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.