Opening - Yayoi Kusama @ Gagosian Gallery, Rome

Gagosian Gallery in Rome is presenting an exhibition of recent paintings and sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, this living legend of international avant-garde. Her dynamic Dots Obsession painting series is an ongoing meditation on infinity and the void. In two vivid and large-scale Self-portraits, she paints herself in a stylized, flat and frontal like a Russian icon.

Three sculptures spanning fifty years reveal Kusama’s constantly evolving approach to reflectivity as concept, process, and metaphor. Narcissus Garden is a sculptural installation of hundreds of mirrored balls, distributed in an aleatory manner across the gallery floor, reflecting everything around them. It earned Kusama notoriety when she first presented it at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 as a rogue event on the lawns of the Italian Pavilion. Dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono, she offered the mirrored balls for sale for 1200 lire apiece, drawing attention to the commercial realities of art ignored in the context of the international festival. Many years after this incident, Kusama produced Narcissus Garden in ten versions of varying scale.

Passing Winter (2005), a seemingly Minimalist cubic sculpture fashioned from highly polished industrial mirror glass, reveals trippy optical complexities as viewers peer into its depths via circular spyholes cut into all fours sides of its gleaming surface to find themselves reflected within, infinitely multiplied. Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin (2010) is another mirror, this time in the shape of Kusama’s favorite pumpkin motif, which she has described as a sort of alter-ego. A hollow form cast in aluminum, highly polished, and perforated with holes to reveal a bright vermilion interior, Reach Up… is installed in a matched monochrome environment dotted with convex mirrors of varying sizes, so that sculpture and environment endlessly reflect and multiply each other and the viewers moving between them.