Artwork of the Week – Yayoi Kusama


Liverpool artwork of the week 38. ‘Gleaming Lights of the Souls’ by Yayoi Kusama at ‘Pilkingtons’ (venue 12) for Liverpool Biennial 20 September – 30 November 2008

In Gleaming Lights of the Souls visitors are invited to enter a tardis-like chamber, whose small interior unfolds into a magical encounter with infinity. The small room is mirrored on all four sides, with a shallow pool of water on the floor. A changing constellation of small LED lights hung from the ceiling produce an infinite chain of endless reflections, transforming the small white cube into a distinctly otherworldly place.

This obsessive patterning began on the canvas with the infinity net paintings of the 1960’s, but quickly evolved into large scale installations where every available surface was colonised by the same pattern. Sometimes associated with the psychedelic art movement, Kusama herself traces her obsessive patterning back to the hallucinations which she began to experience as a young child in the 1930’s, and which continue to this day. Her work often incorporates mirrors to multiply the obsessively repeated patterns to infinity. In her infinity mirror rooms, at once joyful and terrifying, we the viewer, like the artist herself, experience the universe and ourselves obliterated in the endlessly recurring forms.

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