YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow Exhibition in Singapore

by - July 18, 2017

If you're a poly student in Singapore, chances are you're one of two things: hipster, and freaking broke. While I was scrolling through Instagram, I found out that there was this cool, polka-dotted and free art exhibition for students going on at the National Art Gallery, so I decided to check it out with a friend.

The artist Yayoi Kusama may be 88-years-old this year, but her artwork is so special that it speaks to all regardless of age and nationality. Most of her work is based on conceptual art and have attributions of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, psychological and even sexual content.

The exhibition consists of four galleries, A, B, C and H, and takes approximately 2 hours to complete (including posing for pictures and queuing time). Over 120 of her artwork are displayed at the exhibition, with paintings, sculptures, videos and installations dating back to the 1950s.

Exhibit A:

I find pumpkins to be rather comical, so please understand when I say that I giggled while looking at the array of dotted pumpkins on the walls. To laypeople like myself, Kusama's artwork may seem simple and even a little weird, but they contain a whole lot of meaning and detail.

As a child, Kusama grew up with a womanizing father and a mother who violently disapproved of her interest in art. Upon growing up, she began to experience severe anxiety and hallucinations, (dots, in particular) which later became the inspiration behind many of her artwork.

Several of her artwork have dark themes of aggregation, obsession and self obliteration, one of which would be Death of a Nerve (1976) as seen below.

Disturbing themes aside, she also creates incredibly beautiful dotted paintings that seemingly glow in the dark.

The Spirit of The Pumpkins Descended Into The Heavens (2017) is one of her most recent artwork. Visitors get to peep into a small hole and transverse infinity through the fruit's bulbous forms that stretch into and endless sea of black and yellow.

At the end of the gallery, we were greeted by two gigantic mosaic pumpkins, known as the Starry Pumpkin (2015).

Exhibit B:

This surreal exhibition comes with the I Want To Love On The Festival Night peep-hole chamber and a full-blown psychedelic installation which allows you to step into an illusion of infinite space.

Due to the Instagrammable nature of this exhibit, the queue was about 20 minutes long and visitors are only allowed to enter the Infinity Mirror Room for 20 seconds. The room is also very small, and can only accommodate four people at a time.

Yayoi Kusama is also well-known for her sculptures of the female body. Meanwhile, her phallic sculptures from the 1960s reflect her fear of sex.

Exhibit C:

After visiting all the dark and slighting depressing themes, it felt nice to finally see something light and happy for a change. The With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2013) exhibit consists of gigantic tulips, rainbow colors and polka dots that look straight out of a Tim Burton movie.

Kusama's Love Forever Series consist of beautiful black and white works that re-appear later in vivid colors.

Exhibit H:

For this exhibition, the City Hall Chamber was transformed into a reenactment of the Narcissus Garden at The Glass House. Here, you can walk though (but not touch) the garden of 1,500 stainless steel balls. This installation was created by Kusama in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale.

Dots Obsession

At the end of the exhibition, visitors can paste their entry stickers on a large canvas.

The Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibition is a free exhibition for locally based students, and will be held at the National Art Gallery Singapore until the 3rd of September 2017. Check out The National Gallery's website for more details!

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