Yayoi Kusama opened tonight at Gagosian to a crowd of beautiful people with wide, pleased eyes. The show was stunning. What I knew of Kusama prior to this show was her pink hair, love for polka dots, and clever self portrait from AiA's cover 4. Her works are great-- brilliant, even-- but somewhat done before. However, I had no idea that there would be two new installations (I love good installations) of this caliber.
The work above is a mirrored room reflecting hanging lights that expand into what appears to be eternity. Its smoke-and-mirrors, sure, but try and get past that. Katie, Aaron, Aaron's new gal Jo, and I took our 30 second turns stepping into this space as guided by the Louboutin-wearing-stick-insect-gallery-monitor with her stopwatch. Its titled Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity and it took my breath away.
The piece immediately helped explain Kusama's paintings and her idea of space. Its an expanse, its an arena. It's as if Kusama tried everything she could with paint and two dimensions, and finally decided to build the feeling out of drywall and paper and tiny lights. GORGEOUS.
The second installation feels much more 'Kusama' than the lights, as seen below. It faces the street outside in a diorama sort of format. It, too, reads as a painting in terms of space and depth, as if Kusama cracked open her painting and actually let our eyes travel through and around it like we think we can with oil and canvas. The entire show was an expression of her wanting us to get it. No tricks, no tomfoolery, just a passionate display of what she wanted us to know.
That said, the installations in no way discount her paintings. Her large scale work I WANT TO LIVE FOREVER (Annie and I have been talking about titles recently, and this one fits nicely into my 'recognizing the title as part of the piece' category and therefore works extremely well) resonates as a simple expression of desire and perhaps a slight panic.
Her thick brushstrokes draw us in very physically close to the canvas, a trait quite apparent as we gazed around the room at other guests. There were more nose-approaching-canvas than six-feet-away-head-tilts. Another example of Kusama's interest in drawing us into the work, isn't it?
See this show. It will lighten your mood, New Yorkers. And while you're there, stop into Goth+Rosenthal for some really exciting and extremely random free munchies. This is why I love you, Chelsea gallery scene. You're so damn weird. Thanks for a great night.