Pumpkin manifests as an unequivocally consummate and technically impeccable archetype of Kusama’s oeuvre – a testament to the legendary artist’s astonishing dedication to art and creation. Arguably the most important living female artist today, responsible for revolutionising Abstraction, Expressionism, Emotionalism, Pop Art and Minimalism, Kusama Yayoi’s phenomenal oeuvre transgresses paradigms in all fields and media. Since her early days of explosive stardom creating cutting-edge avant-garde art in parallel with key figures in the male-dominated global art scene such as Andy Warhol, George Segal, Donald Judd and Claes Oldenburg, Kusama’s ground-breaking innovation never diminished; now in her late-eighties, the octogenarian shows no signs of slowing down. Fuelled by an irrepressible drive and a singularly extraordinary vision, Kusama works tirelessly and compulsively, producing captivating and intricate works each more beautiful and mesmerising than the last. The present Pumpkin was created in 1991 at the apex of the artist’s return to global eminence, manifesting as an emblem of the artist’s epochal multi-faceted oeuvre.
Embodying an iconic, charismatic and highly personal motif, Kusama’s pumpkins are as universally emblematic of her oeuvre as the Campbell’s soup can was to Andy Warhol’s. Rendered in the classic palette of yellow and black, Kusama painted Pumpkin in the gourd’s essential colour with a direct semblance to a sweet, tender and luscious kabocha. The work is covered in precisely painted polka dots and set against a wall of tessellated nets – all of which are wholly iconic and era-defining features of the artist’s style. Developed to mature perfection through decades of near-obsessive production and reproduction, each of these distinct elements of the piece reflect a different segment within Kusama’s expansive aesthetic philosophy whilst coming together to create a dazzlingly hypnotic visual narrative – one that evokes strong associations with the formal reduction of Minimalism, the repetitive symbolism of Pop and the hypnotic illusions of Op Art. Surreal and fantastical, Kusama’s pumpkin paintings exhibit extraordinary dexterity in skill and execution as well as the single-minded meticulous vision that defines the artist’s career – all the while being deeply personal and indexical, representing a wholly epic extension of Kusama’s legacy in contemporary art and culture.