On ViewDavid Zwirner
May 11–July 21, 2023
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) has unveiled her first solo exhibition with David Zwirner in a decade. I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers—on view this spring from May 11 through July 21—features dozens of new paintings, massive pumpkin and floral sculptures, and an Infinity Mirror Room by the prolific Japanese artist. The works are on view at the gallery’s 519, 525, and 533 West 19th Street locations, and audiences would do well to set aside time to take in the latest installment of Kusama’s remarkable practice.
This practice includes three-dimensional flowers, massive vegetables known for their layered shapes and bright colors, and installations so experiential one may struggle to step away. Since the artist’s first solo show in her native Japan in 1952, Kusama has been making waves as an avant-garde creative—gaining deep recognition for her whimsical Pop art and captivating sculptures. Immediately upon entering the 519 West 19th Street space in Chelsea, viewers will take in three such gargantuan flower sculptures, each one titled I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers (2023). The works vary in size and celebrate the artist’s evolution: her use of vibrant color, polka-dot patterns, and forms so fluid that the public may feel the works are actually in bloom. Pinks and greens, oranges and reds, intricate lines, and different shades of blue—every segment of Kusama’s three flower sculptures is unique in shape and stature, overgrown and lush as though coming alive. The artist invites audiences to situate themselves in the gallery and find their place in a verdant garden of the artist’s own making.
Moving on to the gallery’s 525 West 19th Street location, the artist has prepared effect mirrors for an interactive, mesmerizing experience. Titled Dreaming of Earth’s Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love (2023), the Infinity Mirror Room features colored windows that serve as openings. Audiences are meant to engage directly with these openings—circles and half-spheres in various shades of red, blue, yellow, and green—which take in a synchrony of light while human bodies occupy the space. It’s a subtle room from the outside: a white cube, seemingly with just a few windows, that one must enter by crouching through a half-semicircle door. The inside is entirely different, multidimensional in a manner that resembles a former clubhouse or perhaps the stained glass of a cathedral and filled to the brim with shape and color to the extent that one can’t even count the number of so-called mirrors in the space. This installation is one of Kusama’s largest ever, and this play on space and time is arguably the most exciting work Kusama has created to date—viewers won’t want to miss it—yet the show must continue, and after contemplating the effect mirrors, audiences can move on to thirty-six paintings on display in the same section of the gallery. Filled with bold hues and unique compositions, the works underscore shape and brushwork; they are indicative of the artist’s appealingly obsessive, repetitive nature. These paintings, most of which are from Kusama’s recent series “Every Day I Pray for Love” (2021–present), blur the bounds of line and form in a careful dance of figuration and abstraction.
The exhibition ends in a—pun intended—fruitful manner at 533 West 19th Street, where audiences must reckon with three of the massive pumpkin sculptures that Kusama has reimagined over the course of many decades. Titled Aspiring to Pumpkin’s Love, the Love in My Heart (2023), the screen-like structures resemble paper cut-out chains, enveloping the viewer in Kusama’s renowned polka-dots as these orange-yellow fruits stretch and grow, lifelike and pulsing. The works, which complement Kusama’s three flower sculptures and punctuate the exhibition, stem from the artist’s objective to produce art that is at once autobiographical and universal. Towering over viewers, the pumpkins undulate, and they capture viewers’ full attention by creating a sort of walking path that dictates audiences’ movement in the space.
One of the largest exhibitions in the artist’s seven-decade career, Kusama shares the following about her springtime show—inviting audiences to spend time with her and her oeuvre:
I’ve Sung the Mind of Kusama Day by Day, a Song from the Heart.
O Youth of Today, Let Us Sing Together a Song from the Heart of the Universe!
Until July 21, participants can join the influential artist in a meaningful celebration—singing, alongside Kusama, a song from the heart of the universe. I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers is free and open to the public.