Yayoi Kusama’s Infinite Obsession

It’s not usual to see a one block-long line to get in a museum, but it shouldn’t be surprising for how well Obsesión infinita, the first exhibition in Latin America of Yayoi Kusama, the princess of the Polka Dots, is being promoted. From 30 June to 16 September, her works from 1950 until 2013 are being exhibited in Buenos Aires, at the MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamerico de Buenos Aires or Museum of Latinamerican Art of Buenos Aires), and next, they will be available to see in several cities of Brazil and in Mexico City.

This is not an exhibition reserved only for art specialists; most of the people, including myself, went to learn about this woman who is plaguing Buenos Aires with red dots – in malls, trees and even on cars. No doubt some like myself left the exhibit feeling mesmerized by her creativity, because even though her earlier works are now more than 60 years old, they are still innovative.

To try to appreciate or understand her art better, it is helpful to know that Kusama deals with her psychological illnesses by showing us, through her works, how she experiences her surroundings. Many viewers stared perplexed at the sculptures of Accumulations as they saw elements of their daily life infected by strange protuberances. Two of her installations featured ordinary rooms, but included some peculiarities: the impeccable white The Obliteration Room was saturated with colorful dots that the first attendees stuck on the walls and furniture, while I’m Here But Nothing had also colorful dots, but this time glowing in the penumbra.

The other two installations were part of Infinite Mirrors, in which viewers could find a strange harmony. In one of them, we seemed to enter into an endless prairie of mysterious red and white vegetation. In the other, it’s as if we were suddenly floating between lights resembling stars, which gradually changed colors. This wasn’t just art, that this could be reality. It was a similar sensation, but more sophisticated, to the one that you feel when you arrive to Disney World.

Once left the trajectory of Obsesión Infinita, I felt the experience was more than simply walking through a museum; it was an unguided trip inside the mind of Kusama, where the opposite sensations of anxiety and serenity prevailed simultaneously. Through her art she conveys that there is more to reality, much more, than what our eyes can see.