A pattern of performance

Updated: 2013-12-29 08:22

By Zhang Kun (China Daily)

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Yayoi Kusama brings her artworks to China in her first large-scale solo exhibition in the country. Zhang Kun reports in Shanghai.

Veteran Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's first solo exhibition in China is ongoing at Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA Shanghai).

The 84-year-old artist is famous for her paintings, installations and crossover projects featuring psychedelic colors and repeated patterns, especially polka dots.

 A pattern of performance

The Moment of Regeneration, an installation by veteran Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Photos provided to China Daily

 A pattern of performance

The iconic sculptures of pumpkins by Kusama.

 A pattern of performance

With All My Love for the Tulips, a polka-dot painting by Kusama.

Although she didn't come to the opening of her exhibition, A Dream I Dreamed, she sent her message to Chinese audiences through a video clip made for the show, in which she wears her signature red wig, bright makeup and dotted outfit in neon colors. In the video clip, she also apologized for the Japanese invasion of China in the 1940s and the misery invaders caused to other Asian countries.

This is the first time Kusama has held a large-scale solo exhibition in China, featuring more than 100 paintings, prints, sculptures, videos and large installations.

On show are important artworks in the artist's career, which spans more than 60 years: from her iconic sculptures of pumpkins, polka dots and other repetitive pattern-themed paintings and prints, to works that represented important eras in her artistic development, says Kim Sun-hee, director of Daegu Art Museum in South Korea, and curator of the tour of Kusama's works in Asia.

The Dream tour started in Kim's home institution, Daegu Art Museum. And after the Shanghai show, it will return South Korea in Seoul, and then go to China's Macao and Taipei, then New Delhi in India.

"We are the only station on the Chinese mainland," says Samuel Kung, director of MoCA Shanghai.

Kusama lived in New York in the 1970s, when she was a pioneer of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements. She was influenced by contemporary artists, such as Andy Warhol.

The Infinity Mirrored Room series has been the most popular with visitors during the exhibition in Daegu, Kim says. These installations feature a complex cluster of neon colored balls in a closed space covered with mirrored glass. The kaleidoscope-style illusions create a fantastic experience for visitors.

A pattern of performance

"I hope that through this Asian tour, more visitors will be able to experience the charm of Yayoi Kusama's artworks, which goes beyond the boundaries of nation and politics to bring out feelings of love, hope and friendship," says Kim, the curator.

Cao Jingxing, a renowned scholar and TV commentator, made two visits to Kusama's studio in Japan during preparation for the exhibition in Shanghai.

"I was amazed at the contrast of her small size and great personality," Cao says.

When Cao asked about the pattern of an eye that appears repeatedly on Kusama's new paintings, she replied that "it's my eye. I see the world with them."

She goes on painting diligently every day since art is the most important thing in her life, Cao says.

"She used to say she won't stop creating until death," says Kim. "But now she says she might still be doing art even after death."

Three exhibitions of Kusama's work are touring the world at the same time, according to Kim. Besides the Asian tour, a Kusama exhibition is going on in different cities of Japan and another one is touring South America.

Contact the writer atzhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn.

(China Daily 12/29/2013 page9)