Before I knew her name, I knew of her art. Well, one of her works at least, the Yellow Pumpkin.
I remember watching a travel documentary years back featuring an island in Japan with a wide collection of modern art–one of which was this striking polka-dot yellow pumpkin sitting by the beach. The island was Naoshima and the artist, I found out just a month ago was Yayoi Kusama.
When I heard from the folks in Japan Foundation that Ayala Museum was holding a series of exhibits entitled, Collectors Series, a new exhibition program featuring the private collections of leading art and antiquities collectors in the country and that the initial offering was by a Japanese artist, of course I was curious.
Scanning through the exhibit’s press release on Passion & Persistence: The World of Yayoi Kusama and the Collection of Lito and Kim Camacho, and a quick online search revealed that Kusama is the artist behind the iconic Noashima pumpkin. I was intrigued. I may not find myself anywhere near Naoshima, and the collection won’t have the big yellow pumpkin, but I wasn’t to let this public viewing of some of Kusama’s works pass without seeing it.
The 84-year-old Japanese artist who broke into the art scene in the 1950s is known for her recurring motifs of polka-dots or what she refers to as “infinity nets” for the past six decades (supposedly alluding to the hallucinations she’s experienced since childhood and the repetition that goes in her art serving as her self-therapy from them).
You see the colorful and bold dots in many of her works once you step into the ground floor gallery of the Ayala Museum, where collectors Lito and Kim Camacho, share their Kusama collection to the public. It’s not allowed to take pictures inside the gallery but I did manage to shoot these two photos (forgive me, Ayala Museum security).
I love best the yellow soft sculpture pumpkins, the “Pumpkin Army” etchings (something like this) and the “Statue Of Venus Obliterated By Infinity Nets”, which I think I ogled at the longest, thinking of the painstaking work and detail that went into it. You also can’t help but wonder what was Kusama seeing or trying not to see knowing about her hallucinations and this as her self therapy.
This exhibit is the first major Yayoi Kusama show in the Philippines, with the assistance of the Camachos and the Japan Foundation-Manila, and the guidance of Ota Fine Arts, Yayoi Kusama Studio and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Drop by the Ayala Museum to catch it.
And while you’re there, take the time to also look at The Diorama Experience, a favorite Ayala Museum attraction that chronicles the history of the Philippines in 60 intricate dioramas (carved by artisans from Paete, Laguna)–from prehistoric Philippines to the peaceful People Power Revolution in 1986. Whether you’re a tourist curious about Philippine history or a fellow Pinoy who needs to brush up on it, it’s worth the visit.
“I Love Kusama” exhibition is being held at the Ayala Museum | Ground Floor Gallery and Third Floor Glass Lane until September 1, 2013.