My fascination with polka dots started when I was a child. All my friends know that my wardrobe is full of dotted pieces. Imagine how I felt then when I found out about the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It was love at first dot.
I can remember exactly when it happened. I was living in London a few years ago and used to go often to the Tate Modern – also known as one of my favourite places on earth. One day I was walking around the museum unpretentiously and there it was… a room filled with adhesive dots, which she called “The Obliteration Room”. In this installation, anyone could get one dot and glue it on the wall. It was colourful, interesting and made me feel absolutely inspired. I can still feel all that when I look back on it. Since then, I’ve been following Yayoi Kusama’s work as much as I can. Some time later, there was a big retrospective of her work at Tate Modern again, and there I was… full of dotted souvenirs at the end of that magical museum shop they have.
After reading this I believe you can understand how happy I was when I was finally able to see Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective at the Gropius Bau in Berlin recently. It was the first retrospective of the artist in Germany and it provided an overview of the key periods of her 70 years dedicated to art. It was supposed to open last year but it was postponed to May 2021 due to the pandemic. I bought a ticket as soon as I could and spent a beautiful day surrounded by pink and yellow dots, not to mention the pumpkins, mirrors, lights and canvases.
I think it’s impossible not to like Yayoi Kusama’s work. Her art is full of life, it speaks to all generations, it’s completely accessible and highly instagramable. You don’t need a degree in Art History to feel somehow connected to the artist or to some of her art pieces.
Different from the packed exhibition I saw in London, and due to the pandemic, the Berlin retrospective was a lot more empty, resulting in a lot of space and time to actually enjoy all the artworks at my own pace.
One of the things I liked the most was to experience the infinity rooms. I also loved her experiments in fashion and her paintings, but it’s actually difficult for me to choose one artwork from her that I love the most since I believe they all speak to each other somehow.
The highlight of this exhibition for me was not a piece specifically, but to get a clear idea of how her work evolved over the 70 years she has been working as an artist. I believe I am more interested in the journey than in the destination after all. I left the exhibition reflecting a lot about how experiences, maturity, curiosity and time are the key ingredients to create a complex and meaningful body of work.
If you have time on your hands this summer, don’t miss Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at the Gropius Bau. After one year of lockdowns and restrictions, experiencing the work of this gorgeous artist was exactly what I needed to uplift my spirits. I hope you leave it as inspired as I was.
Thanks Yayoi, for being a massive source of inspiration for me.
The Yayoi Kusama exhibition goes until the 15th of August 2021.
Gropius Bau is located at the Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin.
Obs: unpaid content.