Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro

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Yayoi Kusama
at Victoria Miro
Until 30th July 2016

If you were driving up Wharf Road in London’s Islington at the weekend you may have been surprised to see a mysteriously long queue of people snaking up the road. If you were wondering what all that was about, and if you’ve seen the same thing happening all week, then I can tell you. Pumpkins. Yes, people are queuing to see pumpkins.

No, Halloween has not come early this year. These pumpkins are special pumpkins, Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins and there is an infinity of them thanks to one of Japan’s greatest artists whose solo show recently opened  at two Victoria Miro Gallery locations in London (Islington & Mayfair) simultaneously.

Yayoi Kusama is a one woman artistic phenomenon. Now 87 years of age, Kusama has one of the most active and enthusiastic fan bases in the art world. Hence the queues. The grande dame of contemporary art even created a sellout line of handbags, luggage and accessories for luxe brand Louis Vuitton in 2012.

Here in London this latest exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work has been divided into two sections between the two Victoria Miro galleries. In Mayfair you can find Kusama’s My Eternal Soul paintings. These paintings are a collection of highly personal works that show Kusama still brimming over with ideas in her ninth decade.

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But the most joyful and compelling works are found in the Wharf Road gallery. Here three of Kusama’s famous mirror rooms have been created specifically for this show. Out in the garden is Where the Lights in My Heart Go (2016), a mirrored cube reflecting the tranquil pond in which floats the silver spheres of Kusama’s Narcissus Garden (1966), step inside the cube and you are plunged into darkness pierced only by shafts of light from small holes punctured in the walls.

Inside two more mirror rooms await. Downstairs, The Chandelier of Grief (2016) is a trippy experience of reflecting scintillating lights bouncing around. And upstairs is the star of the show, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016). Pumpkins have a special place in Kusama’s heart, redolent of her rural childhood and a lifelong source of comfort to the artist. In this work dozens of squat, fat, luminous yellow pumpkins are reflected in infinite numbers in the mirrors. It is at once gorgeous and humorous.

If there is a downside it is that you are only allowed into each mirror room for a very short and scrupulously timed visit. It’s all worth the wait though – it is an immersive and completely joyful experience. Don’t miss it.

Yayoi Kusama is open until 30th July 2016.

All photographs ©The London Art File

Admission: FREE

Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm

Victoria Miro
Paintings, sculptures & mirror rooms
16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
+44 (0)20 7336 8109

Victoria Miro Mayfair
My Eternal Soul paintings
14 St George Street
London W1S 1FE
+44 (0)20 3205 8910

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