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Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, Hirshhorn Museum | © anokarina / Flickr
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, Hirshhorn Museum | © anokarina / Flickr
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This Is the Only Place in Canada to See Kusama’s Famous “Infinity Mirrors”

Picture of Sahar Aman
Staff Writer
Updated: 17 January 2018
Yayoi Kusama is a groundbreaking contemporary Japanese artist who uses design, sculpture, and installation for her unreal art, but she has also used paint, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other mediums. She is renowned for her surrealist approach, pop art, and psychedelic imagery. After launching at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors will be coming to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. This exhibit in Canada is a rare opportunity to experience Kusama’s breathtaking illusions of infinite spaces.
Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 | © Yayoi Kusama/Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y.
Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 | © Yayoi Kusama / Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y.

Infinity Mirrors is the first institutional survey exhibition to explore the evolution of Kusama’s immersive infinity rooms. This tour is considered to be the most significant exhibit of Kusama’s art in North America after almost two decades. Being shown exclusively at five locations, the Art Gallery of Ontario is the fourth major museum stop on the North American tour of Kusama’s works.

Infinity Mirrors debuted and launched at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on February 23, 2017. It then traveled to the Seattle Art Museum and The Broad in Los Angeles. The final stop for this unique exhibition is at the Cleveland Museum of Art, from July to October 2018.

Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever, 1966/1994, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | © Yayoi Kusama/Photo by Cathy Carver
Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever, 1966/1994 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | © Yayoi Kusama / Photo by Cathy Carver

Infinity Mirrors gives visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience six of Kusama’s most epochal kaleidoscopic environments (the most ever shown together) and witness out-of-this-world installations, notable paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present.

Much of Kusama’s latest work, which was created in her Tokyo studio, will have its North American debut during this exhibition. Visitors will see her newest colorful paintings and the artist’s most recent infinity room, “All the Eternal Love I have for Pumpkins” (2016), featuring dozens of her distinct bright yellow, dotted pumpkins.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 | © Yayoi KusamaCourtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro, London. Photo by Cathy Carver
Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | © Yayoi Kusama / Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore, Victoria Miro, London. Photo by Cathy Carver

Kusama was born in 1929 and grew up close to her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto. After World War II, at the age of 19, she left for Kyoto to study Nihonga, the Japanese painting tradition. At this point, Kusama had already started to explore abstraction, but it wasn’t until she moved to the United States that she really began to flourish.

From 1958 to 1973, Kusama lived in New York and became a vital part of the city’s avant-garde scene. Thriving as an artist, she moved in circles with pioneering figures such as Andy Warhol and Allan Kaprow. It was during this time that Kusama developed her soft sculptures and signature dot and net motifs, created installations and staged performance-based events.

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016 | © Yayoi Kusama/Photo by Tomoaki Makino
Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016 | © Yayoi Kusama / Photo by Tomoaki Makino

One of Kusama’s breakthrough moments came when she first used mirrors as a multi-reflective device in “Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field” (1965/2016). The installation was a reproduction of some of the intense repetition found in her earlier paintings and works. Since then, the artist has created over 20 unique infinity mirror rooms, and this traveling exhibition is the first to focus on this remarkable body of work.

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Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room— Phalli’s Field, 1965 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | © Yayoi Kusama/Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro, London, David Zwirner, New York. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Infinity Mirrors is roughly organized into chronological order and moves through Kusama’s most iconic kaleidoscopic spaces, including “Phalli’s Field.” Visitors will also get to see the artist’s signature polka dots in “Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots” (2009), a playful domed mirror room with inflatables suspended from the ceiling. More than 60 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper will be on view as well. The exhibition will also show a lot of Kusama’s lesser-known artwork that was created after she moved back to Japan in 1973.

Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots, 2007 | © Yayoi Kusama/Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London, David Zwirner, New York. Photo by Cathy Carver.
Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots, 2007 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | © Yayoi Kusama / Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore, Victoria Miro, London, David Zwirner, New York. Photo by Cathy Carver

The art exhibit concludes with an immersive experience through a piece called “The Obliteration Room” (2002). This installation is an all-white replica of a traditional domestic room, and visitors will have the chance to become part of the work themselves as they stick multi-colored polka dots on the furniture and walls, eventually filling the stark white space entirely with color.

Yayoi Kusama, The Obliteration Room, 2002 to present | © Yayoi Kusama/Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia. Photograph: QAGOMA Photography.
Yayoi Kusama, The Obliteration Room, 2002 to present. Collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Queensland Art Gallery. | © Yayoi Kusama / Courtesy Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia. Photograph by QAGOMA Photography

From multimedia installations to mirrored chambers and mesmerizing environments, this rare sensory journey will let visitors explore Kusama’s central themes of the celebration of life and its aftermath. See Kusama’s amazing Infinity Mirrors exhibit from March 3 until May 27, 2018, exclusively at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For tickets and more information, see their website.