This 89 Year Old Artist's Pumpkin Sculptures Make it Okay Autumn is Coming | Culture

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This 89 Year Old Artist’s Pumpkin Sculptures Make it Okay Autumn is Coming

A major exhibition by Yayoi Kusama features her iconic, painted bronze pumpkins.

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Yayoi Kusama will have her twelfth exhibition at Victoria Miro from 3 October – 21 December.

Taking place across Victoria Miro’s Wharf Road galleries and waterside garden, the exhibition will feature new paintings, including works from Kusama’s fluid, instinctual ‘My Eternal Soul’ series, painted bronze pumpkin and flower sculptures, and a large-scale Infinity Mirror Room with paper lanterns covered with polka dot patterns, suspended from the ceiling.

This 89 Year Old Artist’s Pumpkin Sculptures Make it Okay Autumn is Coming

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

The pumpkin form has been a recurring motif in Kusama’s art since the late 1940s and she has painted pumpkins since childhood. Coming from a family that made its living cultivating plant seeds, Kusama was familiar with the kabocha squash in the fields that surrounded her childhood home.

 ‘It seems that pumpkins do not inspire much respect. But I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. What appealed to me most was the pumpkin’s generous unpretentiousness. That and its solid spiritual balance.’ -Yayoi Kusama, from her 2011 book Infinity Net: the Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama

Works on display include new bronze pumpkin sculptures, painted in a vibrant palette of red, yellow and green, their curvaceous forms adorned with tapering patterns of black dots that create a sophisticated geometry. It was in early childhood that Kusama also began to experience the terrifying hallucinations that left her ‘dazzled and dumbfounded’ by repeating patterns that engulfed her field of vision, a process she referred to as ‘obliteration’. The pumpkin sculptures integrate key aspects of Kusama’s practice: the repeating pattern of dots, connotations of growth and fertility and a palette of singular vibrancy.

‘I would confront the spirit of the pumpkin, forgetting everything else and concentrating my mind entirely upon the form before me. Just as Bodhidharma spent ten years facing a stone wall, I spent as much as a month facing a single pumpkin. I regretted even having to take time to sleep.’ -Yayoi Kusama, from her 2011 book Infinity Net: the Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama

The works on display, created using the same palette of red, yellow and green, reveal myriad variations of the pumpkin form and its pattern of repeated dots. Varying from evocations of single pumpkins on patterned grounds to almost abstract, vertical forms, pulsating with energy, each painting carries its own distinct mood and character. Continuing to address the twin themes of cosmic infinity and personal obsession, the new works in this exhibition are testament to an artist at the height of her powers as she approaches her 90th birthday.

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