Yayoi Kusama's flowers and polka dots bring joy to Covid-19 stricken New York City
By Helen Cook
New York, Apr 23 (EFE).- The flowers and polka dots that characterize the work of 92-year-old Japanese-born artist Yayoi Kusama have brought color and joy to public spaces in different parts of the world and now are doing the same in New York City, one of the hardest-hit metropolises during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In recent days, Kusama's almost childish tones and shapes have been decorating the already picturesque New York Botanical Garden, which is located in the Bronx and boasts a wide array of flowers and plants, from tulips, magnolias and daffodils to almond and cherry trees, all of them exquisitely maintained. The "KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature" exhibition, launched on April 10 and scheduled to run through Oct. 31, was to have been inaugurated in the spring of 2020 but was postponed due to the onset of the pandemic in the Big Apple.
Kusama used that time to design four new pieces that she is exhibiting for the first time at this 100-hectare (250-acre) botanical garden in Bronx Park. They include "Dancing Pumpkin" (2020), a nearly five-meter-tall (16-foot-tall) bronze sculpture that is painted yellow and black and features long legs that appear to be in motion. The piece has been so popular with visitors that two guards are tasked with keeping the line moving and not allowing people to linger too long for their photos.
"Flower Obsession" (2017/2021) is a new participative piece by the artist that is making its debut in New York City. Visitors are given real and plastic roses as they enter that so-called obliteration greenhouse and told to stick them wherever they choose until the entire space is cloaked in red.
Another large-dimension sculpture, the four-meter-tall "I Want to Fly to the Universe" (2020), provides the exhibition's first visual jolt due to its position over a pool near the botanical garden's main entrance.
A figure with a sun-shaped yellow face and red and blue tentacles with white polka dots, it reflects Kusama's clear obsession with vitality and representations of nature's shapes.
One of Kusama's popular mirrored installations, or "infinity rooms," also is on display. Titled "Infinity Mirror Room - Illusion Inside the Heart" (2020), this outdoor large-dimension cube can only be seen for now from the outside and reflects all of the flowers around it.
Other popular pieces include her landmark "Narcissus Garden" (1966/2021), an installation first shared with the public in 1966 that is made up of 1,400 stainless-steel mirrored spheres measuring 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter that float on a 70-meter-long (230-foot-long) pond; and "Hymn of Life" (2007), which depicts large tulips that reflect off the surface of the water.
Enclosed galleries also allow visitors to retrace Kusama's career in New York, where she has lived since 1958, and view her early works on paper and some of her smaller-sized sculptures. EFE