Yayoi Kusama’s solo exhibition “Festival of Life” is currently on display at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. The Japanese artist, now 88 years old, has a rich and insurmountable body of work and an unmistakable prominence in contemporary and pop culture. Crowds wait in line for hours in order to catch a glimpse of her favorite and Instagram-trending “Infinity mirrors.”
However, her artwork performs a greater function than simply contributing to selfie culture. Her triptych of infinity rooms, in addition to the 76 pieces on canvas, portrays her enormous genius. Her infinity rooms present the blur between a cosmic largeness and a natural microscopy. Even in the expertise and complexity they showcase, they possess an unassuming simplicity. Their architecture, consisting of, but not limited to, geometry, design and light is astounding.
Kusama’s artwork has a dreamlike and childlike innocence. Upon entering the gallery for her solo exhibition, one encounters a riot of colors. Her paintings seem like surreal constructs and colorful ruminations, but they have a reality which is hard to ignore. Their details are easily veiled and invite observation. The infinity mirrors and rooms, on the other hand, are far more obvious and awe-inspiring. “I pray with all of my love for tulips,” for instance, is a simple but hallucinatory wonderland of sorts. Part of Kusama’s immersive experience is to make the spectator feel special by allowing the spectator’s vision to become part of the infinity she portrays. As one walks into an infinity room, or peeps in to view the infinity mirrors, one sees oneself as part of the art, part of the universe Kusama strives to create.
One is able to view and experience the infinity mirrors and rooms for under two minutes, which gives birth to transience in the seeming permanence of her art projects. But whether one is a tourist, a serious art lover or someone looking for Instagram-worthy material around the city, Kusama’s exhibition is a must-visit and, arguably, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The exhibition is open until Dec. 16 at three David Zwirner gallery locations in New York. Two of the exhibitions are on display at 525 and 533 West 19th St. and Infinity Nets is now on display at 34 East 69th St. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but is scheduled to be closed on Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving. It is free for all, and no tickets are required.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 20 print edition.
Email Devanshi Khetarpal at [email protected]