What significance does our life represent? How are we connected to others?
These are just a couple of the questions I found myself asking when viewing the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors
Artists often use art to cope with mental illness.
Yayoi Kusama experienced visual and aural hallucinations from a young age.
“My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings.” – Yayoi Kusama
Her illness, which emerged during her difficult childhood, has been diagnosed as depersonalisation syndrome, a severe dissociative disorder that can result in episodes of detachment and anxiety, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
She has voluntarily chosen to live in a mental hospital since 1977, her art studio within walking distance across the street.
“Forget yourself. Become one with eternity. Become one with your environment.” -Yayoi Kusama
The photo above was taken in the Obliteration Room.
The room starts out stark white. Each person entering is asked to use dot stickers anywhere in the room. Eventually all of the white space will disappear and be obliterated by thousands of multicoloured dots.
While I enjoyed the questions this exhibit posed I didn’t enjoy queuing for twenty minutes for each room. Nor did I like the fact that we were restricted to twenty seconds viewing time while sharing the tiny space with one or more other people. I think this destroyed a bit of the overall impact of the exhibit.
Below we are in the room of polkadot penises, Phallis’ Field.
“What death signifies, its colour and spatial beauty, the quietude of its footprints, and the nothingness after death: I am now at the stage of creating art for the repose of my soul, embracing all of these.” – Yayoi Kusama
Perspective and repetition forces us to reflect on our insignificance in the world. We are all just a flicker of light in the universe soon to be extinguished.
Narcissus Garden is filled with large silver balls that look like oversized marbles.
“Since my childhood I’ve always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings all represent dots; a single particle among billions.” – Yayoi Kusama
I enjoyed the exhibit and would recommend it despite the long waits for viewing.
I would rather be overdressed than underdressed any day.
You may have noticed a certain bee belt I’m wearing with my thrifted very black and very plain dress.
The husband surprised me with this piece of iconic Gucci bling from Hong Kong and I wanted the belt to be the focal point of the outfit.
This is what I topped it off with…
Vintage works with everything.
Here we are in better lighting and no…we didn’t discuss what we were going to wear that day. Somehow that just magically happens after you’ve been married for 27 years.
Are you a fan of Yayoi Kusama’s work?
Linking up with the lovely Patti over at Visible Monday
Anna Parkes says
I’ve never heard of this artist, but found her story fascinating. The artworks are truly bizarre and yet wonderfully thought provoking – it must have been an amazing experience. I’m tickled by the fact that you dressed so soberly for this exhibition – was that a deliberate choice knowing what was to come?
suzanne carillo says
My outfit was chosen around the gifted bee belt as I’d mentioned. I knew Yayoi Kusama was all about colour and polka dots. Several other women attending the exhibit dressed in all polka dot outfits which was quite apropos.
I hadn’t heard of this artist before, but she extends the boundaries in a provocative way. Thank for this summary of her exhibit. How gorgeous are you and Robert, the best dressed couple of the week, and looking chic. That belt! I die. xox
Marilee Gramith says
I think you are very appropriately dressed for the exhibit. Not somber just a shining dark star among many. You don’t want to be like all the other stars and I suspect that you know there are a mutitude of ways to twinkle. Next to Rbert you are a splendid couple.
There is something somber about this art though. I like it but also find it a bit disturbing. There’s a great intensity of focus and chaos all at once. I like the interactive aspect of the Obliteration Room. She invites us to be a part of the art, make our impact so to speak. I’m actually comforted by great humor in that penis field.
suzanne carillo says
Her art evokes so many different emotions in different people. Some of her pieces were so much fun with a great sense of humour and others were very sombre as you suggested.
The penis room has a bit of a difficult history. Her father was a womanizer and her mother sent her to spy on her father. She developed a phobia of sex afterwards. The penis room and subsequent penis chairs were an effort to overcome this phobia.
Sherry - Petite Over 40 says
Yayoi Kusama is an inspiration, especially given her mental illness. She’s taken something that could be considered a negative and turned it into brilliant art. When Hubby and I saw the show in Seattle, there was a crackle of energy all around us. Every person there was excited, electric. People laughed out loud sometimes and in other places whispered. It amazed me how the different spaces evoked different approaches by all who visited. I could have spent an hour in the dark room with the lights–I’m forgetting the name of it now.
And you, my friend, are an inspiration with your gorgeous outfit. That Gucci belt buzzing around your waist, marking your “thrifted very black and very plain dress.” (It is anything but plain on your adorable frame.) And that blue coat! ::swoon:: Plus, of course, you and Robert are just a dashing couple. Like that coat–classic and one-of-a-kind at the same time.
Thank you for sharing the photos of your adventure. It was fun seeing the exhibit through your eyes and reliving it a little through your photos.
suzanne carillo says
Like you I wish I’d had more time in each of the rooms. They were mesmerizing.
My take on the exhibit was totally different than what they suggested at the Art Gallery of Ontario. In fact, they skipped over almost all of her mental illness issues. I did the research online. It is such an integral part of her and her work and as you mentioned, incredible that she turned her illness into a positive.
Señora Allnut says
wowww, that’s something I would like to watch, as I think that Yayoi Kusama is amazing, inspiring and I love her art and personality!. Such a fabulous exhibition!
And both of you look so elegant and cool!, I love your dress and booties, the magnificent blue coat and the fabulous belt!! so lovely present!
suzanne carillo says
I really think you would love this exhibit. So much colour!
jodie filogomo says
I remember seeing Sherry’s photos of this artist but I didn’t know the story behind it!!
How inspiring and such creativeness.
Of course you showcase that belt marvelously Suzanne!!!
suzanne carillo says
I always find the story behind the artist enriches the artwork a thousandfold.
anne the SpyGirl says
Her show was sold out in a matter of hours at the Broad in LA (had to make reservations) which made me sad that I missed it. However, your descriptions of the queues and short times allowed in the rooms make me feel a little better. I’ve seen many photos of the Obliteration Room, and I think it’s a wonderful concept!
What an exeptional exhibitionisme! I love it! Extraordinary!
Omg! I meant exhibit!!!
you’re looking splendid – as always!
Would love to see the exhibition. The Husband and You look great it in!
Have a very HAPPY EASTER!
xo from Vienna
thank you for introducing to her! very interesting and disturbing – i always say that good art has to be disturbing.
thank you for all that great photos – so i can see the exhibition even if it will never come in our corner of the world….. <3
your hubby is so sweet – that belt is made for you with that bling and the cute bee. love how you styled around it – and matching outfits without a word is just lovely – we "do" this too – even after "only" 9 years of marriage 🙂
No Fear of Fashion says
Yes I like her work. Seen it in London a couple of years ago. Saw Anja’s photos of her visit to the exhibition and now yours. I am getting creative education. Thank you.
R did so well with this belt. The darling. What a beautiful gift.
I also like that blue coat very cery much. And the bag. Right, that were a lot of compliments.
Until I read your blog I’d never heard of Yayoi Kusama but her work is definitely thought provoking which, in my humble opinion, means she’s ace!
That blue coat is wonderful with the boots! I haven’t worn my turquoise velvet opera coat this winter, it’s been too blimmin’ cold.
What a sweetie Robert is, that belt is so very you! xxx
Wow! Cannot believe I have never heard of Ms. Kusama. Thank you so much for sharing these magnificent photos of her work. I see the whimsical, mysterious and other worldly. An irresistible combination! I so hope one of her exhibits comes to somewhere near me someday. I would love to see it. And having only 20 seconds to view each would surely not be enough time!
The bee belt is exquisite. Your man has fantastic taste. The blue maxi coat is TDF. Such a stylish couple you two make.
You are both beautifully dressed – excellent choice of backdrop for your Bee Belt! I’m really looking forward to seeing the exhibit tomorrow; not looking forward to the lines. I had read several articles about Kusama before booking my ticket so I did know a bit about her. I was surprised that the AGO didn’t touch on her mental illness in any of the material they used to promote the show, as it is such a big part of her art and why she makes her creations.
suzanne carillo says
We pondered this same question. Rather silly to leave this important fact out of the exhibit.
I’d never heard of Yayoi Kusama, but I find the artwork thought provoking and at the same time quite disturbing at times. It’s a pity there was so much waiting involved and so little time to take it all in. You and your hubby are such a stylish couple and what a fabulous present the Gucci bee belt is. It’s obvious it had to take centre stage! xxx