Monday, February 13, 2012

isn't life brilliant?

One name:

Yayoi Kusama.

Today I experienced my most fabulous day in London yet.  After attending a service at St. Paul's Cathedral and walking across the Millennium Bridge, I stood in the long queue at the Tate Modern to purchase a ticket for the new Yayoi Kusama exhibit that just opened last Thursday.
I have grown quite accustomed to art in London being free, so I was initially wary of the 9.50 pound price tag.  Was this show going to be worth it?  In spite of my apprehension, I bought a ticket and prepared to enter the exhibit behind the crowds of people who were also eager to see what lay ahead.
When I emerged from the exhibition showrooms over an hour later, it was clear that Kusama had altogether surprised and pleased me in so many ways.  

The show seems to provide a timeline of the artist's life and works.  It starts with her beginnings as a painter in Japan, influenced by the surrealist movement.  The next room shows her evolution to an almost minimalist state.  Later works showed how her career continued to change as she travelled to New York City.  Here, she came under the influence of the Abstract Expressionists.  Her art from this time period also illustrates her feminist anxieties in a male-dominated art world.  Kusama also transitions from painting to large-scale installation pieces.  

As time progressed, Kusama also became fascinated with the 1960s counterculture movement in America, and her work from this period has a hallucinatory quality.  Then, in the 1970s, after the loss of a dear friend, she checked herself into a mental hospital to recover.  However, her art-making did not cease.  In fact, my absolute favourite piece in the whole exhibit was an interactive installation called Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled With the Brilliance of Life that existed in the final room of the exhibition.  Upon entering the initially dark room, one becomes surrounded by an expanse of mirrors, and fluorescent lights twinkle energetically throughout the room.  

Ultimately, this exhibit attempts to demonstrate Yayoi Kusama's search for self-meaning that can be traced through her evolution as an artist.  As I wandered awestruck through this final room, gazing at my own reflection in these mirrors, I, too, was inspired to go on my own quest for self-discovery.  

This weekend, it began to occur to me that the amount of time that I have left to explore London was dwindling away before my eyes.  This thought worried me, and I felt a surge of panic to see and do it all before time runs out.  Today, though, after visiting Yayoi Kusama at the Tate Modern, I can confidently say that, no matter what else I experience in this great city, I am wholly satisfied.  

Wow.  That's a relief.