A bright yellow room overrun with black dots and illuminated pumpkin sculptures in endless reflection will enthral visitors at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) when Yayoi Kusama’s THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS opens on Friday 1 April 2022.
Described as ‘the world’s most popular artist’, Yayoi Kusama is best known for her immersive polka-dot and mirror installations. Over the course of her 70-year-long career, she has engaged with an array of media and an expansive idea of perception, space and the human body.
Kusama uses several recurring motifs – dots, eyes, nets, flowers and pumpkins – to investigate repetition and to create sensory experiences that hint at the infinite.
“Few artists in the world elicit such enthusiastic audience responses as Yayoi Kusama, and we are thrilled to present this immersive installation at AGSA in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia, and with thanks to the profound generosity of the Gwinnett family,” said AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM.
“Adelaide audiences and visitors to our city will delight in this experiential and otherworldly encounter, which, combined with Chiharu Shiota’s popular Absence Embodied, 2018, and our upcoming Japanese ceramics exhibition Pure Form, will offer visitors to AGSA a deep and exemplary experience of contemporary Japanese art,” said Devenport.
“Kusama’s THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS joins an iconic lineage of her infinity experiences and is one of the National Gallery’s most-loved collection works,” said National Gallery Director, Nick Mitzevich.
“We are delighted to loan this work to the Art Gallery of South Australia, where audiences will no doubt be as equally engaged as ours.”
With this installation, Kusama invites viewers to immerse themselves in her world, to participate in an experience of both enveloping and infinite space, and a round trip from the microscopic into the cosmic.
With their disarming anthropomorphic forms, pumpkins are one of Kusama’s most recognisable motifs and have attained the status of fetishised objects within her oeuvre.
Here, the dots of the wider room and the pumpkins within the ‘peep-space’, seem to reproduce at an alarming rate, overgrowing their environment and threatening to obliterate the viewer’s body.
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, Kusama is one of the most significant contemporary artists whose perceptual engagement with the world was informed by the visual and auditory hallucinations she experienced as a ten-year-old girl. Her instinctive response was to create art that conveyed the limitless visions that were her world.
Kusama has presented hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums across the world with large-scale retrospectives of her work seen at the Tate, Centre Pompidou, LACMA, MOMA, Whitney Museum of American Art and throughout Latin America and Japan.
Yayoi Kusama’s THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS is a National Gallery Touring Exhibition and will be on display in AGSA’s Melrose Wing for twelve months.
Yayoi Kusama: THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS
Melrose Wing – Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Exhibition: 1 April 2022 – 30 April 2023
For more information, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au for details.
Image: Yayoi Kusama, © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai