Seeing Dots…An Artist’s Perspective

Posted by on Apr 26, 2018

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who has created “dot-like” paintings, sculptures and installation rooms for over 70 years, as she continuously explores her idea that “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.”

One of my favourite pieces in Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit.

This is an early painting by Yayoi, where she tries to create a 3D feeling of dots on a 2D form of canvas. I think she was very successful with this piece. It may not come through in this photo, but is very evident when you see it in person.

For both the Gallery and art lovers, the build-up to this show was HUGE. The AGO was the only Canadian stop on its North American tour. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors Exhibition, was definitely worth the visit. As an AGO member, I got to book tickets online last December when tickets were opened up to the Members. I waited a few days after the first day online booking date was given, and was quickly able to secure my tickets for the afternoon of April 12th.

Before my date with Yayoi, friends and colleagues had already been to the exhibition, so I heard about the line-ups everywhere: for the coat check, to begin your appointed time-slot, and then the 20 to 30 minute line-up to spend between 20 and 30 seconds in one of the six mirrored rooms presented as part of the exhibition. So I was prepared to spend between two to three hours immersing myself in her art. And yes, it did not disappoint. I felt like I did I deep dive into the world of dots!

The Art Gallery also presented all their information in dot form. Here is the beginning of the line up for one of the mirrored rooms, with the “rules” posted quite clearly.

Through her art, she invites us to participate in her explorations of time and space, inspiring us visually to think differently about our connection to the world and universe around us. My favourite of the Mirrored Rooms was “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013”.

Photo of “”The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013”, courtesy of Laural Carr.

When I saw the AGO’s advertisement featuring the image of “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”, it reminded me of my jewellery design ‘Carlu’, which are very sparkly Swarovski dot-like discs paired with my handmade sterling round rings. So, at a meeting in January with the AGO Buyer, I decided to take my Carlu line along to see if she thought it would be a good fit for the Yayoi exhibition.

She agreed and we picked out six Swarovski crystal colours, in earrings and matching pendants; one for each of the six rooms that would be a part of the exhibition. The ShopAGO decided to present that part of my line in a special “Kusama Inspired” display case, located right across from the cash desk in the jewellery department of the shop.

A quick phone shot of my work in the Kusama-inspired display case.

You can see all six of the Carlu pendant colours represented here. Starting at the top: Jet (Black), Bermuda Blue, Charcoal, Champagne, Red & Vitrail Medium (multi-coloured). Only the Jet and Red Carlu earrings are shown in this shot, but all six colours are available, in both post and huggie versions.

The Yayoi Kusama exhibition is only on until May 27th and rumour has it that tickets are hard to come by. I do know that the gallery releases 100 tickets every morning. If you want to be lucky enough to get one, you should arrive at the Art Gallery by 8:00 a.m. If it looks like there are fewer than 100 people standing in line, chances are you’ll get your hands on one!

If you aren’t able to get a ticket, go to the gallery anyway and visit Yayoi’s Narcissus Garden on Level 2. It is an entire room devoted to her mirrored ball installation piece. And it is free to see until April 29th. The room is filled with orbs that, when first presented at the 1966 Venice Biennale, you could buy for $2.00. Essentially, that meant “one could purchase their narcissism”.

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Narcissus Garden’ on Level 2 at the Art Gallery of Ontario until April 29th. Free with general admission.

Yayoi Kusama is 89 years old and is still actively creating art in her Tokyo studio. A friend went to Japan last year and he happened to be there on Yayoi’s birthday. He told me of the very surreal experience of EVERYONE, and he said “everyone”, dressing up in polka dots to honour her birthday. Apparently it is an annual tradition, and the Japanese people’s way of embracing her as the celebrated artist who is guided by her unique vision and boundless creativity.