Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow

In my last post featuring a video of my trip, you’ll notice some of the footage was taken at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the National Gallery of Singapore.

I sign up to a lot of art and design news and thankfully one source told me some of Kusama’s pieces have landed in Singapore. Just like the KAWS exhibition, the trip was mildly planned around this given that we flew with Singapore Airlines, Mom suggested to stop by Singapore for a couple of days. We do love visiting Singapore every now and then especially since their airport is so accommodating and the city is usually our main stopover to Jakarta.

I first heard about Yayoi Kusama when I saw a Louis Vuitton shopfront a couple of years ago. She collaborated with LV and this is what it looked like (courtesy of Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama): yellow-dots red-dots black-dotsgeorge-clooneyrei

Yep that’s George Clooney for the cover of W magazine and yep, that’s Yayoi in her trademark polka dot outfit. It is considered as one of the most successful art collaborations with a fashion house. The dots however aren’t seen as completely a playful pattern. Kusama says these dots are a representation of her childhood hallucinations where she constantly experienced reoccurring visions of repeating patterns during the events of World War II. Her work can be seen as a means of therapy for Kusama and even for viewers – a therapy of confronting a fear by representing it on a grand scale.

She spent lots of time hand painting polka dots or “infinite nets” as she refers them to in her life. They applied them onto canvasses, sculptures and then onto everything else that was a part of her life, even her body. Kusama’s family had their own plant nursery and she drew pumpkins and flowers with dots. She is literally the queen of polka dots.
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I’m a fan of polka dots (not to the extremities of Kusama) so I was eventually lured into Louis Vuitton that day. I was fascinated by their shop design and their new range of leather-goods. It was like walking into an art installation, learning more about who Yayoi Kusama was.

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The Yayoi cake in the cafeteria after the exhibition!

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My current read is “Yayoi Kusama: Inventing the Singular” by lecturer, Midori Yamamura. A great read if you want to dig deep into Kusama’s life events, many of which affected the art she’s created to date. 

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KAWS: Where the End Starts Shanghai Exhibition

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By far the most favorite exhibition of mine is this one.

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There was a time last year my Mom came home with a few KAWS T-shirts from Uniqlo and I was wondering how on earth could she possibly know who KAWS is. I questioned my Mom and her response was, “what’s a KAWS? I just got these shirts because the designs are so cute and on sale.”

“Mami, oh my god. KAWS is awesome, your shirts are awesome, you’re awesome for buying them. Oh my gosh. Can’t. Stop. Smiling. I need to go to Uniqlo. Now.” I couldn’t help but repeat how much I worship KAWS’ works in front of my Mom.

Fast forward to this year, KAWS announced his next major exhibition in Shanghai and I was telling my Mom how much I wanted to go. The idea of going to Shanghai was always floating in my mind but nah, I thought it’d be ridiculous to go all the way for an exhibition. Then Dad brought up how he wanted to visit China for a holiday and has been getting emails about special deals. I thought, why not. Let’s just go.

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Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS, started as a graffiti artist and has been long regarded as a pop artist and designer. He’s collaborated with some of my favorite brands, especially with Medicom toys who produce Bearbricks. His sculptures can be as small as 10cm and as tall as 10 meters high. In contrast to his sculptures, the shape of his canvas paintings mimic the silhouette of popular culture characters such as Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. His acrylic paintings are mesmerizing to look at because of how clean his painting style is – they all look like printed canvases once you see it in person. At times I didn’t believe they were paintings. Solid blocks of color are evenly applied to properly communicate the 2D subjects in his work. KAWS uses cartoons as subjects because of his inspiration going to Japan early in his life. Cartoons are universally understood, unlike regular politics. Cartoons communicate better and are always embraced by people.

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Thanks to the owner of Yuz Museum, Budi Tek, for bringing this exhibition to life and creating such a wonderful space for it. Being able to walk around the art, seeing it clearly up-close and from afar gave it a sense of structure and intimacy. Looking at the Companion sculptures across the space, there’s heaps of those “awww” moments, especially when you first walk in and peer up at the giant Clean Slate sculpture. I hope a KAWS exhibition will happen in Melbourne sometime soon. If there’s a KAWS exhibition or installation nearby, you better go check it out.

The Season of Van Gogh

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It is literally the season of Van Gogh.

Louis Vuitton  released an art range of leather goods in collaboration with artist, Jeff Koons, to celebrate humanity through the works of Da Vinci, Rubens, Degas and Van Gogh.  In Melbourne, the Van Gogh and the Seasons  exhibition is still buzzing as part of the NGV Winter Masterpieces collection. The artwork “Wheat Field with Cypresses” is featured in both Louis Vuitton and in this exhibition. It’s also one of my favorite  works by Van Gogh so I stared at it for as long as I could before the crowds got in the way to get a photo of the painting.

 

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I went to this exhibition twice, both on a Sunday afternoon just past lunchtime. The first time was during the first weekend of the exhibition aaaand that was a bad idea because it was too packed! I went again a couple of weeks later to which I kept telling myself “it wouldn’t be packed, it wouldn’t be packed”.

I was wrong.

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However, this crowd was a lot less than the first one.  Bear in mind that you might have to queue up twice if you happen to visit anytime soon – one for purchasing tickets and the other to get into the exhibition. I waited about half an hour to get in only because I pre-purchased my tickets.

Don’t scroll further if you don’t want exhibition spoilers.
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You can tell from the very beginning Van Gogh was always inspired by looking at other artists’ artworks, which is also often the case for me. The Seasons exhibition starts off with a room full of prints he kept all his life as his go-to “bible” for inspiration. His  biggest collection were Japanese prints dating back to the Edo period.

The only way to get to know Van Gogh is by reading his letters that were exchanged with his best friend and brother, Theo. Having prior knowledge of  Van Gogh’s backstory was helpful and when seeing his works you begin to make connections to his life as told in his letters.

A massive introvert, mentally unstable individual living a dramatic life (much of it is due to his non existent interpersonal skills), I still think Van Gogh is a great guy even if he still was around today.

A right-brainer by day and occasional blogger by night, you've landed on a place where I live and breathe all things art, design, culture and fashion. You'll find me documenting my life in the creative field, endless travels with friends and family and a bit of food.

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