To celebrate Yayoi Kusama's eightieth year, Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present her first exhibition in Los Angeles since the major LACMA/MOMA survey "Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama,1958-1969" in 1998. This overlaps with a related exhibition of recent works at Gagosian New York, which opened on April 17 and continues through June.
The centerpiece of the Los Angeles exhibition is Kusama's new and exuberant sculptural ensemble Flowers that Bloom at Midnight (2009). These astonishing triffid-like flowers, which measure from four to sixteen feet in height, are cast in highly durable fiberglass-reinforced plastic, then hand-painted in urethane to jazzy perfection. Arranged in the gallery like an artificial garden, the flowers tower and sprawl about in their psychedelic glory, offering the viewer multiple vantages while reaching outward into the surrounding space in all directions. Kusama's recent figurative paintings, in which eyes, amoebae, and other more indeterminate biomorphic forms abound, reflect a preoccupation with mortality, as well as with enlightenment, solitude, nothingness, and the mysteries of the physical and metaphysical universe. As do her sublime Infinity Net paintings – whether in austere achromes or vibrant contrasting hues—which continue to depict the undepictable in a steady, insistent pulse.
Kusama produced her first Infinity Net paintings as a young, struggling artist in New York in the late fifties, who often skipped meals and sleep in her incessant drive to cover the vast canvases with uneven tracts of small, thickly painted loops. The inherent philosophical paradox of these works — that "infinity" could be quantified within the arbitrary framework of a readymade canvas — combined with the more subjective and obsessional implications of their process, distinguished them from the Minimalist abstraction that would dominate the local scene several years later. Today, she composes these paintings as isotropic fields filled with fairly evenly painted elements, yet the results vary distinctly from work to work, giving each its own "vibrational field."
To date, Kusama has completed several major outdoor sculptural commissions, mostly in the form of gaily colored yet monstrous plants and flowers, for public and private institutions including the Fukuoka Municipal Museum of Art and Matsumoto City Museum of Art in Japan; and Eurolille in Lille, France. In 2007 the Beverly Hills City Council in Los Angeles commissioned Kusama's first public sculpture in the United States, just a stone's throw away from Gagosian Gallery. Visitors to the exhibition can also see Hymn of Life: Tulips in its permanent location in Beverly Hills Park at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive.
The exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York are accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Louise Neri, Robert Nickas, a New York-based critic and curator, and Midori Yamamura, a Fellow at CUNY Graduate Center who is completing her PhD on Kusama.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. Her work is in the collections of leading museums throughout the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Major exhibitions of her work include Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Fukuoka, Japan (1987); Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York (1989); "Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama,1958-1969", LACMA, 1998 (traveling to Museum of Modern Art, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo), 1998-99; Le Consortium, Dijon, 2000 (traveling to selected venues in Europe and Korea), 2001-2003; "KUSAMATRIX", Mori Museum of Art, Tokyo, 2004 (traveling to Art Park Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo Art Park, Hokkaido); "Eternity – Modernity", National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (touring Japan), 2004-2005; and "The Mirrored Years", Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2008, currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and traveling to the City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand later in 2009.
Kusama lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.