National Gallery Singapore presents ‘YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ exhibition

Avant-garde icon Yayoi Kusama presents seventy years of artistic obsession at National Gallery Singapore

Jun 08, 2017 | By Ilyda Chua


Yayoi Kusama, Song of a Manhattan Suicide Addict, 2010. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, David Zwirner

One of the biggest names in contemporary art, Yayoi Kusama, returns to Singapore in her highly anticipated solo exhibition, ’YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’. This is Kusama’s first major survey in Southeast Asia and will open to the public on 9 June 2017 at the National Gallery Singapore.

In ‘YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’, viewers will be able to explore 70 years of Kusama’s iconic art career in over 120 works. Including signature pieces such as her infinity mirror rooms, ‘Gleaming Lights of the Soul’ and ‘The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens’, as well as other never-before-seen works, this exhibition offers an unprecedented glimpse into Kusama’s extraordinary, complex mind.

Exhibited works range from colourful mixed-media works to captivating installations, and often make use of Kusama’s signature motifs — dots, nets, and pumpkins — to create a sense of illusion and sensory manipulation.

Yayoi Kusama, The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, 2017.

“There’s a real sense of infinite space in her works,” says co-curator Russel Storer. This is particularly resonant in one of her installations, a mirrored peep room titled ‘I Want to Love on the Festival Night’. Created especially for the gallery, this spectacular exposition of light and space is striking and dramatic, yet strangely intimate.

Other works include soft sculptures as well as several paintings from her ‘My Eternal Soul’ series, including the titular piece for the exhibition, ‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’, which will be on display for the very first time. The exhibition culminates in the installation ‘Narcissus Garden’, first exhibited at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966. It features an arrangement of 1,500 reflective, stainless steel balls, and will be displayed at the Gallery’s historical City Hall Chamber, which will be used as an exhibition site for the first time.

Yayoi Kusama, Life is the Heart of a Rainbow, 2017. Image courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro Gallery, David Zwirner

Amidst the larger, flashier installations that Kusama is renowned for, however, one piece stands out as especially poignant: a video installation, ‘Song of a Manhattan Suicide Addict’. In this piece, Kusama sings an original song about her experience dealing with depression while a moving sequence of artworks forms the backdrop. “I swallow antidepressants and it will be gone,” she sings in her native Japanese. “Tear down the gates of hallucinations. The agony of flowers, the present never ends.”

In traversing seven decades’ worth of work, ‘YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ not only presents viewers with a unique perspective of the subtle changes in Kusama’s distinctive style over the duration of her career thus far, but also two elements that remain constant throughout all her works: they are visually interesting, and they make you feel.

‘YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ will run till 3 September 2017 at the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery and City Hall Chamber, Level 3, City Hall Wing at the National Gallery Singapore.

For more details about the exhibition, visit the National Gallery Singapore.

ilyda chua

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