Yayoi Kusama, the “most popular artist in the world” according to a survey based on museum attendance figures published by The Art Newspaper, is holding her biggest commercial exhibition to date at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, from Wednesday May 25 to Saturday July 30.
Spread over three galleries, the exhibition features a new selection of paintings and sculptures by the 87-year-old artist, as well as three installations where viewers can lose themselves in an infinity of mirrored halls and spotty pumpkins.
All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016) is the first mirrored pumpkin room Kusama has created since 1991. Three brand-new bronze mirror-polished pumpkin sculptures are also for sale (sculptures and installations $400,000-$1.5m; bronze pumpkin in second picture).
Kusama may be an octogenarian, but the themes of her work resonate across the generations in their obsession with the reflected image, while pumpkins are a ubiquitous motif in the artist’s work; her family’s business was selling produce wholesale and, despite having consumed the vegetable to the point of nausea (as she has said) during her childhood, she has remained artistically addicted to their bulbous form.
Another installation, Where the Lights in My Heart Go, in the gallery’s garden, is described as Kusama’s first outdoor planetarium. Sunlight penetrates through tiny holes in the walls and roof of the polished stainless-steel room, with the intention of transporting visitors into the realms of heaven – or thereabouts. Next to it is the Narcissus Garden (not for sale), which features a “kinetic carpet” of dozens of mirrored balls floating on the Regent’s Canal.
Paintings from Kusama’s ongoing series My Eternal Soul, which she began in 2009, are also in this show ($350,000-$750,000; My Heart’s Abode in first picture, Shedding Tears to the Season in third picture). Each flatly painted monochrome field abounds with eyes and faces – often in pulsating combinations and lost in a miasma of spots. Although Damien Hirst has been crowned the king of spots, Kusama was in fact painting fields of brightly coloured polka dots decades before – as envoys of “love and peace”.
“There has finally been the acknowledgement that, art historically, Kusama is extremely important,” says Victoria Miro, who, along with co-director Glenn Scott Wright, has worked with the artist since 1998. “In the past five years there have been museum exhibitions of her work touring the world in Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Spain, England, France, North America, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It is remarkable to think that so many millions of people across the world have been brought together by her art. Yayoi Kusama is truly a phenomenon.” Expect queues.