I love polka dots. If it can be polka-dotted, I’ll have it. Aprons, dresses, mugs, jugs – you get the idea, I’m dotty about polka dots. But while for me they are jaunty, retro, joyful and playful, in the hands of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama spots become angst-ridden representatives of her hallucinatory visions. Kusama – who at the age of 82 is still working and can still rock a pink wig – uses polka dots to express the hallucinatory visions that she’s experienced since childhood and the result is trippy, at times disorientating and always fascinating exploration of the mind of this prolific artist.
And standing in ‘I’m Here, but Nothing’ room where everyday furniture and accessories are covered with spot stickers, the humble polka dot is transformed into a psychedelic, mind-altering object. But it wasn’t all about the spots – Kusama’s painting were more subdued but no less transfixing while her Sex Obsession sculptures depicting everyday items covering in phallus might not have been pretty, but were certainly powerful. The final room Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life is discomboluating but brilliant – like being thrust into a polka-dot filled space. Which seems to me to be a like a pretty good place to be.
by Suzanne Elliott