Review: Yayoi Kusama at the David Zwirner Gallery


Jeanette Lee

A corner of the room in Kusama’s piece “With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever.”

 When walking down West 19th street in Chelsea, a long line can be seen from a block away, snaking around the corner and disappearing from view. Two 15-foot-tall white doors open in the building time to time, letting out blasts of warm air into the frigid winter night.

The reason for all the commotion? Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit, which was on display at the David Zwirner Galleries from November 15 to December 15, 2017. Kusama, an 88-year-old Japanese artist, created her first infinity mirror piece in 1963, and has created hundreds of pieces since, including sculptures and paintings. She began having visual hallucinations from the age of ten which were later incorporated into her artwork. Her polka-dot hallucinations have inspired multiple pieces, including the room in the New York exhibit called “With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever.”

Jeanette Lee
Inside Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror” room, which had mirrored balls hanging from the ceiling and along the floor.

Kusama’s artwork is mesmerizing and has captured audiences around the world, with people flocking to her exhibits whenever they’re in town. The long lines resulting from the popularity of the exhibits can be an hours-long wait. “It was amazing to be able to see the exhibits in person, but I was a really frustrated by the fact that I waited in 30°F weather for over two hours. It was even more frustrating considering that we were rushed through the exhibit, and spent about ten minutes indoors,” said Nicole Neil ’18.

You walk down 69th street in the Upper East Side and turn to the left; across from an apartment with an open window that reveals a well-lit Christmas tree is a white building with heavy black doors. Push open the heavy black doors, and walk down three white stairs, your footsteps echoing in the empty hallway that makes way to a small room where two interns sit at a table that holds a pamphlet of the paintings of Yayoi Kusama’s recent exhibition Infinity Nets. Ascend a set of black spiral stairs to a second floor where a stoic security guard stands next to YKKINOO.

“It was amazing to be able to see the exhibits in person.”

There are three rooms at this installment of Kusama’s work, with five in the right room, four in the left, and one in the center. The empty white rooms focus your attention to the canvases, the white empty space drawing you into them.

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibitions play with your perception of space; the patterns and contrasting colour schemes that she uses brings you on her hallucinogenic adventure. But if you feel wavy and need to steady yourself, make sure that you don’t touch the walls.

Jeanette Lee
At the entrance of the Infinity Mirrors Exhibit, books filled with Kusama’s artwork are on display.
Jeanette Lee
The first painting visible in the “Infinity Nets” exhibit, is hung on a plain white wall with the exhibit name next to it in thin, gray lettering.
















Jeanette Lee
The centerpiece of the Infinity Mirrors Exhibit.