Review: Yayoi Kusama’s “Love is Calling”

June 4, 2023 By Beatriz

Review: Yayoi Kusama’s “Love is Calling”

On Thursday, March 9, 2023, The Pérez Art Museum opened its newest exhibit, “Love is Calling” by artist Yayoi Kusama. Kusama, known globally as an icon of contemporary art, works with various media such as sculpture, painting, performance, electronic art, and poetry. Kusama is most known for her signature use of polka dots. She believes polka dots represent us in the universe. We on Earth are just one polka dot among a galaxy of stars.  

Now recognized as the world’s top-selling female artist, Kusama was born in Japan in 1929 and moved to New York in 1958 to continue her professional art career. She managed to revolutionize the previously male-dominated art scene in New York City. Her work is typically considered conceptual art, meaning the concept behind her art is even more important than the physical product. Whether the concept is feminist, surrealist, abstract expressionist, or even psychological, Kusama’s art has a purpose and a cultural or personal narrative to convey.  

When I first entered the exhibit, the room was heavily dimmed, and I was surrounded by mirrored walls. Kusama’s tall, inflatable pieces resembled colorful tentacles which were contrasted by her classic dark polka dots. These pieces almost felt extraterrestrial. The exhibit contrasted all others in the museum. Kusama was the only artist I encountered at the Pérez who truly managed to transport the spectator. The fixtures gradually changed colors, creating a remarkable illusion in the space. As I walked through the exhibit, I heard Kusama repeatedly reciting a love poem in Japanese. The poem is her original work, and the title in English translates to “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears.” By exploring themes of life and death, the poem further articulates Kusama’s hope of spreading a global message of love through her art.  

The “Love is Calling” exhibit is the largest of Kusama’s famous “Infinity Mirror Rooms.” This unique installation rejects the concepts of physical space and time by offering an artificial place for personal and individual contemplation. At first, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the neon, roof-reaching inflatable pieces and was not exactly sure how they related to the sound recording I was hearing. After about a minute, I was transported. I felt fully immersed in this new bright environment. Kusama, who has been creating mirror rooms since the 1960s, contemplates infinity with her mirrors, creating the illusion that her pieces continue forever. Her poem ends with the line, “This is my message of love to you.” This represents her work in countless ways. Even at 93 years old, Kusama continues to have a clear inspiration for her creations. Everything she does is centered on love.  

Read the original article on The Catalyst.

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