The Princess Of Polka Dots, Yayoi Kusama’s Artistic Debut In India

  • 16 Aug '23
  • 4:55 pm by Manisha AR

The princess of polka dots’ work made its Indian debut earlier this year at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre. What started as depictions of abstract natural forms on different surfaces in the 1950s has grown into one of Yayoi Kusama’s landmark Infinity Mirror Room series. Situated in the concourse area at NMACC, the ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ is now part of the NMACC permanent collection, ‘Light of the Universe Illuminating the Quest for Truth, 2020,’ is an environment comprised of several dots in bright colours, installed alongside mirrors and hundreds of flashing LED lights. The contrast of colour, dots, light, reflection, and dark creates the feeling of being in a space with no end or beginning – much like the story of Kusama’s dots. Born in Matsumoto, Japan, the artist grew up surrounded by trees and mountains. She took an interest in art from a very early age. One of her earliest use of the dot in her art can be found in a drawing she made of her mother using dots.

The Japanese artist works primarily in sculpture and installation, she has also produced paintings, performances, videos, poetry, and more recently fashion collaborations. While she has been producing work for nearly 70 years, her work became a global phenomenon in the mid-2010s with Infinity Mirror Room exhibitions. Before that, she drew attention in the 1960s when she painted dots on naked bodies in a museum. Both times by surprising visitors with unexpected experiences. While her works are rooted largely in conceptual art, she has inspired several art movements in performance, pop art, installations, and minimalism. Themes in her work include feminism, surrealism, anti-war propaganda, elements of the hippie counterculture movement, sexual themes, and abstract expressionism. This mesmerizing and expansive ability to influence various art forms is what makes Kusama’s work unforgettable.

Infinity Mirrored Room―The Eternally Infinite Now Light of the Universe Illuminating the Quest for Truth, 2020 by Yayoi Kusama. Image credits: NMACC

The artist also often describes her vivid hallucinations as inspiration for her works. At the age of 94, Kusama continues to make art. Acknowledged as one of the world’s most successful living artists, she became the only woman in the top 10 artists–selling her work at $178 million in 2021. According to a report by art price, Kusama’s audience and market have changed dramatically in the last two decades. She has moved from making sales primarily in American, British, and European countries to Asian countries, where her popularity continues to grow. This show at NMACC is a clear signifier of her entry into the South Asian market.

For Kusama her artwork is an expression of life and a way to channel her obsessive-compulsive neuroses. She often describes it as a healing practice. Given her long and rich artistic career, it’s only natural her work intersects with various movements and mediums. However, what has stayed consistent is the autobiographic nature of her work. In the 1970s she finally checked herself into a psychiatric institute in Tokyo and has continued to make work from there since. According to Kusama, “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos,” she continues, “Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.’ In this way, the artist explores simpler concepts like the cosmos, dots, and infinite space through her work, all the while using these installations as a bridge to draw new visitors deeper into her work.


Priced at Rs 100, visitors need to buy their entry tickets online in order to view the exhibit.
You can book the tickets here.
The duration of the show is limited to 1 minute.
Timings: 11:45 am- 7:15 pm.