I impulsively spent the weekend in London with a dear friend, and was fortunate enough to visit the incredible Yayoi Kusama retrospective at Tate Modern. It only opened at the beginning of the month and so was rather busy, but enthralling nonetheless.
Much of Kusama's most famous work is made up of hypnotic repetitive patterns and colours, and there was plenty of that on display, as well as paintings from early on in her career, and her distinctly disturbing "accumulation" sculptures made up of a myriad of phalli arranged on everyday objects. Since the early 70s, Kusama has been a voluntary inpatient at a mental institution in Tokyo, suffering from the hallucinations so apparent in her artwork. While walking round the exhibition, I was extremely conscious of the way we so often dismiss creative people as crazy, and how the mentally ill are stigmatized by society.
The exhibition ended with her Infinity Mirror Room - Filled With The Brilliance Of Life; a room lined with mirrors and filled with winking coloured lights. It was at once dizzying, claustrophobic, awe-inspiring, and magical; it filled me with a paradoxical feeling of being trapped but floating, of feeling very small, but also liberatingly insignificant - it was like being inside a nebula. I'll hopefully post about some of the other works soon, too.
In the mean time, I would highly recommend visiting this retrospective of a really remarkable artist - it's almost uncomfortable at points, but its surpassing beauty will stay with you long after you've left the gallery. The exhibition will be at the Tate until early June.