Some say childhood is simplicity.
Others call it the baggage that prevents aging.
But childhood is an inspiration for artists and fashions alike, for to a certain degree, the worlds of art and fashion are subsets of each other. Especially when inspired from a childhood experience or memory.
However as playwright Graham Greene aptly put it, there is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. Yayoi Kusama‘s latest exhibit in David Zwirner‘s Chelsea gallery evoked this very sentiment. Having read up about Kusama, I found her suggestively painful titled work like “Fear of Youth Overwhelmed by the Spring Time of Life” or “I Who Have Taken an Antidepressant” rather disturbing. Because it was childlike and playful, often brushed with color. And yet, akin to the story of clowns, it was plagued in sorrow.
“Give me Love” was the debut of “The Obliteration Room” concept. Namely an all white, hospital like domesticated interior home, complete with a couch, table, kitchenware, chandelier and coat rack, along with other household clutter. Us unsuspecting visitors were given a set of glossy circles to put in any place we wanted. Bright neon polka dots of differing sizes were sprinkled like organized confetti – a juxtaposition which alone addressed the rigidity of childhood.
While collectively designed, the perfectness of the circles held a tale of their own, not given away by the color chaos. And indeed, Kusama herslef had said that “Dots are symbols of the world, the cosmos. The Earth is a dot, the moon, the sun, the stars are all made up of dots. You and me, we are dots.”
One could almost say that the colorful explosion spread through the room like a virus. Historically and factually speaking, Kusama had admitted herself into a mental institution in 1977 courtesy of OCD, and used dots obsessively. Collectively, she thus wanted to feel the world contributing to this apparent childishness of playing with colorful stickers, with a deeper meaning in their wraps. It was a happy, yet ironically sad statement, one that evoked speechlessness.
Gradually, it became evident that the space transformed as a result of numerous interactions, blending into one colorful, transcendent work of art. Relaying timelessness, and the conquering of childish playfulness on the plainer sorrows of life. For all depth and volume disappeared as confusion took control.
Once done playing, the outdoor area filled with gigantic silver pumpkins seemed rather spacious. Perforated or painted with dots, they measured after human proportions, distorting those who looked into them. Both comical and celebratory as well as macabre and psychedelic, these pumpkins reflected a human experience that Kusama must have touched, and wanted to demonstrate to onlookers.
The thing with glasses and mirrors is that they are always self absorbing, deflecting what you see, but deflecting the truth. Especially when an omenic red color, matching with my leopard shoes.
A pensive dive into a childhood of sorts led to introspection of sorts. To think it was a bubbling, colorful explosion in vibrant New York, the busiest city in the world, with no time for such introspection.