Sunday, August 21, 2016

Seeing the World in Polka Dots

Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan's premier artists had an exhibit this summer at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.  Standing in a small room surrounded by mirrors, I saw the ever changing colors in an installation titled Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears. (See picture above).  Kusama-- artist, sculptress, novelist, poet, influencer of fasshion design (Louis Vuitton has used her designs on handbags), pop culture icon, feminist--first came to attention in Japan when she organized "happenings" in which the naked participants were painted in brightly colored polka dots.  She moved to the United States in 1957 and became associated with pop culture artists such as Andy Warhol.  Eventually she returned to her native Japan and now lives (by choice) in a psychiatric hospital and is still actively involved in the art scene.  She once said, "If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago."
A second room at the museum contained Aftermath of the Obliteration of Eternity.  A man holding a stop watch stood at the closed door to the installation, allowing only a few people in at a time.  I was alone.  He pointed out a narrow platform with a line behind which I was to stand., reminding me that the  platform was surrounded by water.  Then he shut the door.  I couldn't see the water because, except for the golden lights and mirrors all around, the room was dark. I didn't move.  It was a moment of intense feeling--awe, fear, realization that I was alone in an endless universe.  Then the room went dark--completely black.  Is this was death feels like?  Or transformation?  Slowly the lights flickered back on, the door opened and I stumbled out into the shock the real world.

At the gift shop I bought a plate by Kusama entitled Women Wait for Love but Men Walk Away.
Look up some of Kusama's work on Google.  Even seeing it online is an experience!



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