Exhibit offers pumpkins, polka dots and peek into an artists’ mind

Kusama already holds the record for the highest price paid for a work by a living female artist.

By Landry Rose

Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art was extended to April 29 and you should go or go again.

Before going, I saw many social media posts of how the exhibit was mesmerizing but equally, I saw ones that expressed disdain for the $16 ticket for the 45-seconds time limit.

I hate to admit it but I was hesitant to go because of the sheer principle of paying $16 for a “measly” 45-seconds. I was so wrong. It was worth it and I plan to go see it again.

It was a Tuesday afternoon; the museum was very quiet and no one was in front of me. I was early and while waiting for my friend, I read the many yellow posters with printed information on Kusama and the exhibit.

The installation is part of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms series, in which she “explores the nature of infinity and the sublime through the obsessive repetition of her favorite motifs, including polka dots, pumpkins and lights.”

The room, which measures 13 square feet, is filled with more than 60 pumpkin sculptures with black polka-dots. The pumpkins are “associated with the fertility of the earth.” I read that Kusama sees the world in dots, artistically and mentally, and the earth is a dot in the universe. The polka-dots is something that she sees or hallucinates because of her mental illness.

My friend arrives and we walk towards the attendant. She gives a whole spiel of what to do and not do. “Leave your stuff outside and bring in your phone but no flash … 45-seconds.”

I approach the white door to the white cube in the room and my heart is beating fast, probably because of the anticipation and expectations. The attendant opens the door and I step into the dark room with the mirrored walls, black polka-dotted yellow pumpkins and me. It is intense and a pure sense of joy overwhelms me!

It’s as if I had stepped into Kusama’s mind, into a portal and I’m one of the pumpkins in the endless sea of pumpkins. “The effect is limitless potential.” The experience is surreal. I’m a microscopic dot in this world of whimsy.

Maybe it was how I was feeling at the time but I had also felt a glimpse of loneliness and sadness in that dark room and maybe that’s how Kusama felt when she hallucinated. Then, at 20 or 30 seconds in, I felt like frolicking amongst the pumpkins like I had stepped into a Dr. Seuss book. Yes, all these thoughts went through my mind and I even had time to take a selfie for Instagram.

Then, the attendant’s knock from outside breaks my 45-seconds trance of thoughts, and I step back outside to the non-artistic view of the world.

The attendant outside shared with me that one guest has seen the exhibit at least 36 times or more because they had lost count. That’s $576 for a total of 27 minutes. Who is this person? Is this person you? What have you learned or experienced in those 27 minutes?

In 2014, Kusama was named the most popular artist in the world because of her credibility in the art world and her “very broad popular appeal.” The Art Newspaper said Kusama had the most visited exhibitions in the world that year.

The DMA says, “This installation is the first mirror pumpkin room created by Kusama since 1991, and the only Infinity Mirror Room of its kind in a North American collection.”

The work was acquired through the support of Dallas-based donors Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and my art lover’s heart is better for it.    

The opportunity to experience one of the most popular living artist’s works and only one of its kind, and in our own backyard is all the reason to go or go again.     

You have until April 29.

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