Yayoi Kusama, Love Forever

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Massimo Gianquitto analizes the latest project by the Japanese artist. Yayoi Kusama, with her colored dots, has recently invaded cities around the world through Louis Vuitton flagship stores.


I’ve been painting, sculpting and writing for decades. But to be honest I’m not entirely sure I’m an artist“. Hearing the words of Yayoi Kusama written in the book “Infinity Net. The autobiography of Yayoi Kusama” (published in Italy by Johan&Levi) it is hard to believe that she is the same artist who appears in many Louis Vuitton showrooms.

Reading the book, it’s tangible how the polka dots have marked Yayoi’s personal path since childhood in Japan and never left her. Not even when her moved to New York in 1957, or with the beginning of her artistic career.


Yayoi Kusama’s first exhibitions


The dots became a spatial environment, an installation entitled “Obliteration room” in 2002 in an exhibition held at the Queensland Art Gallery in New York. The public entered an anonymous all-white room and took part in the creation of the artwork, by freely sticking colorful polka dots onto each item featured. Those dematerialized points became a dense network of luminous energy in the “Infinity Mirror” works, real rooms covered with reflective surfaces in which the lights of LED lamps multiply infinitely times, connecting the viewer with different dimensions.


Louis Vuitton showrooms’ takeover


The one who paints the colored polka dots on the windows of the Luis Vuitton store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, however, is not the artist in the flesh. She lives and works in Tokyo, commuting between her studio and the mental hospital where she stays. The faithful reproduction of the artist, a clone, moves automatically in a completely natural way inside the shop. She raises her arm and starts painting, turns her head, closes and opens her eyes and lips. Or it can even be seen in the gigantic version of her, at number 101 of the Champs-Elysées, where an enormous inflatable sculpture embraces the Louis Vuitton flagship store.

It seems that the process of liberation from traumatic experiences and conflicting situations – the catharsis in the religion of classical Greece, the magical rite of purification, intended to cleanse the body and soul of any contamination – which the artist went through during the course of her whole life, has come to an end. Has Yayoi finally manage to share her world and her fears with others, bringing the responsible painful events back to the conscience, removing them from the subconscious?

The joy that apparently spread from the creation of the polka dots, recalls the myth of Midas, the king of Phrygia, whose best known text is the Latin poet Ovid. The author, in his Metamorphoses (XI, 85 ff.), writes how God Dionysus, to reward Midas for finding Silenus, the god’s preceptor, granted him the possibility to transform everything he touched into gold. Soon he discoveried that his gift was also a cursed one. But Yayoi has always known this, while a superficial and inattentive interpretation of her would lead one to think otherwise.


Yayoi Kusama a Milano


louis vuitton tekaover yayoi kusama


And now Yayoi is hosted in Milan, in the new Louis Vuitton showroom based in the historic Garage Traversi in via Bagutta, which looks more like an art gallery than a luxury retail.

The LVMH group brand occupies three levels of the former garage, in which the ground floor and the second floor are dedicated to retail, while the first is destined to host special projects. The opening of the new Milanese space comes in conjunction with the world launch of the “Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama” collection, and the first special project is an immersive set -up inspired by the art and recurring motifs of the Japanese artist.

The “Infinity Dots” motif with yellow and black polka dot and the “metal ball”, the maxi metal spheres on which the space is reflected, multiplying to the infinity, are displayed into the Milanese venue. The facade of the building presents the special windows with the theme “Infinity Dots” while the terrace hosts three giant pumpkins inspired by the artist’s famous Pumpkins theme.


The obsession and the liberation


Yayoi Kusama is more than taht. In the Sixties she made her Body Painting Happenings famous. Her artpieces consecrated her as the Queen of polka dots and pacifism.

Images courtesy Louis Vuitton