Yayoi Kusama Exhibition opens September 27

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Media Release: June, 2009. 

Art that goes on forever dot dot dot... Exhibition of Japan’s greatest living artist to reopen City Gallery Wellington.

Following an 11 month building development, City Gallery Wellington will reopen on 27 September with a solo exhibition of internationally renowned Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. Mirrored Years allows New Zealanders the rare opportunity to experience the strange and dizzying world of this avant-garde artist and her trademark polka dots. A sculptor, painter, film producer and fashion designer, Kusama exhibited with Andy Warhol in 1960s New York and vied with him for position of the most publicised artist of the era. Renowned for her obsession with repetitive patterns and forms, Kusama’s exhilarating room-sized mirrored installations allow a breathtaking experience of infinity and are utterly unlike anything else the viewer will experience in the world of art.

“The most enchanting, exquisite, want-to-stay-lost-here space in Sydney,” visitor to Mirrored Years in Sydney.

Spanning 70 years of practice, Mirrored Years comes to Wellington direct from a record breaking season at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum Boijmands van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and is the largest showing of Kusama’s work to be seen in Australasia. It is the result of four years of planning with Kusama Studio by City Gallery Director, Paula Savage, subsequent to her meeting the artist in Tokyo in 2004,

“The Yayoi Kusama exhibition continues City Gallery’s history of negotiating high-quality exhibitions of major international artists for New Zealand audiences,” she says.

In 1958 aged 27, Kusama moved to Manhatten where she became a mover and shaker in the US counter-culture of the time and was embraced by all the important artists of the era, such as Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. She organised legendary performances or “Kusama Happenings” and created influential work in a period of significant change and innovation. Kusama had her own fashion label and literally covered the Woodstock generation with dots.

Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 where she continued to develop and create her art at her Tokyo studio. Four decades later, Kusama is a national treasure in Japan and is hugely revered globally. Her original, wildly imaginative patterns and forms have influenced younger generations of artists in Japan and elsewhere. Now aged 80, she recently produced 50 new print works for inclusion in this exhibition.

Yayoi Kusama: The Mirrored Years presents seminal works from the 1960s and 1970s alongside more recent peices. The earliest work is a small drawing of a woman in a kimono that Kusama did when she was 10; the figure has dots all over it. Kusama has acknowledged that her dots are taken directly from the hallucinations and obsessive thoughts that began as a child.

“Red, green and yellow dots can be the circles representing the earth, the sun or the moon,” says Kusama in her autobiography, “I paint polka dots on the bodies of people and with these polka dots the people will self-obliterate and return to the nature of the universe.”

City Gallery Wellington will also reopen with three new gallery spaces and a new auditorium as part of its $6.3 million building development.

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years is a partnership with Museum Boijmanns van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. It is curated by Jaap Guldemond (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), Franck Gautherot, Kim Seungduk (Le Consortium, Dijon), with additional works selected by Paula Savage (Director, City Gallery Wellington) and Judith Blackall (Artistic Director, MCA). Principal Sponsor: Ernst & Young Generously supported by The Japan Foundation and Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years, 27 September 2009 - 7 February 2010