It was a quiet slow Sunday. Then suddenly, I was knocked off my feet and hurtling into an unknown, exhilarating world. Nothing could stop this feeling, not even the extremely long queues. It was the last day of artist Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at the National Gallery Singapore. This was the first major show of her work in South East Asia. The artist is eighty-eight years old, and she has been creating art almost all her life. She paints, writes, sings, sketches, sculpts, and makes installations and videos. I was not familiar with her or her work. The poster at the main entrance showed a lady in yellow with brilliant red hair. A sense of a wizard wafted in right there.
We walked in and our eyes fell on the large light spherical objects floating overhead. Yellow with black dots all over, luminous… they seemed to lift us off the ground. The escalators were right below, people travelling up, looking at the gently swaying balloons as they came closer but never quite within grasp. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” a line from Browning came to mind.
That moment on, everything was as if in another reality. Where the artist’s emotions, fantasies, inevitable fears and obsessions ruled all. But it didn’t engulf you, didn’t smother your thoughts, your emotions, your fantasies and other thoughts that you rarely pondered, or didn’t even possibly know were there. Dots, mirrors, colours, shiny surfaces, peep holes, wire mesh, more colours, black and white, deft sketch pen strokes, flashing lights, a song in a thin voice, little rooms, tulips, pumpkins, venus, queues, mata hari, elizabeth taylor… they swirled around you, beckoning, surprising, disarming. There was constant communication here.
For a couple of hours we got lost in that alternative space. Something disturbing there, yet buoyant. And beautiful. Life is the Heart of a Rainbow by Yayoi Kusama. A few quickly snapped on iphone memories here.