Review of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins

By / Sep 28th, 2014 / / No comments

A new series of sculptures by visionary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama lie in the enviable water garden of Victoria Miro’s Wharf Road Gallery – an oasis of reflection that befits the artist’s longstanding subject matter; the natural world.

‘Pumpkins’ is an outdoor exhibition featuring three mutant-like sculptures, ranging in size from knee high to head height, each charmingly titled in order of size from small to large. The series has been two years’ in the making and marks the first time Kusama has worked with bronze on this scale. The pumpkin holds a particular significance for the 85-year-old artist who has reinterpreted it in her graphic style for over five decades. First appearing in her paintings and paper work as early as 1948, the pumpkin as a form of self-portrait originates from the artist’s childhood when her family made their success from cultivating plant seeds.

Kusama’s most famous pumpkin creation to date is a six-foot tall fibreglass sculpture in yellow and black from 1994. The public artwork is located at Benesse Art Site on the Japanese island of Naoshima, which is dedicated to international art framed in natural environments. While this new body of work is more muted in tone, the plant’s hardiness as both an organic object and conceptual self-portrait is perfectly embodied in the contrasting black and bronze hues along its bulbous surface, and it is decorated with textured dot gradations that are synonymous with the artist’s Pop aesthetic.

Through pattern, Kusama is able to engage with the viewer’s sensibility for decoration and introduce ideas of fantasy and darkness by means of familiar, modest forms. Visitors will never look at a pumpkin in the same way again.

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Pumpkin’ bronze sculptures will be on display between the 15th and19th October 2014 at Victoria Miro , 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW.

The artist will also be exhibiting further public artwork during Frieze London 2014 at Frieze Sculpture Park in the English Garden in Regent’s Park, London.



‘Pumpkins’, 2014, Yayoi-Kusama, Victoria Miro Garden – image courtesy of Victoria Miro ‘Pumpkin (S)’, 2014, Yayoi-Kusama, Victoria Miro Garden – image courtesy of Victoria Miro

Jonathan Velardi is an arts, culture and lifestyle writer. His background as a conceptual visual artist forms the basis of his editorial interest around global creative activity – visit for a selection of his published work.



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