The legion of silver tiles that illuminate the surface of Starry Pumpkin Silver recreate the methodically tessellated background that has characterized Kusama’s output for decades. An effulgent tribute to the artist’s painstaking dedication and emblematic craftsmanship, the sculpture is utterly absorbing for its dazzling optical illusion and monumental presence. As Gilda Williams remarked in the catalogue for Kusama’s heralded exhibition of pumpkin works at Victoria Miro Gallery, “These glittering, intensely crafted sculptures seem stylistically to cross Walt Disney with Byzantium, and occupy the [space] like gargantuan foil-wrapped bonbons,” (in “Infinite Nature: On Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins,” from Exh. Cat., Victoria Miro, London, Yayoi Kusama Pumpkins, 2014, p. 10). Here, Kusama’s signature nets and dots are replaced by stunningly bright and dazzling ceramic pieces, yet the resultant whole maintains her obsessive and mesmerizing evocation of infinity, as the multitude of tiny squares rhythmically expand across the monumental undulating surface uninterruptedly. The mirrored surfaces of the tiles, much like Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, are continually activated to suggest the never-ending expanse of the universe, a profound concept that forms the theoretical basis for her artistic practice and epitomizes her inimitable style.
Similarly, the hearty, earthy pumpkin represents Kusama’s quintessential subject matter. An intensely personal and autobiographical shape for the artist, it has become a kind of self-portrait for the artist. Explaining the appeal of the Japanese pumpkin, or kabocha, Kusama has said, “I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. What appealed to me most was the pumpkin’s generous unpretentiousness. That and its solid spiritual balance” (the artist in “Face to Face with a Pumpkin,” ibid, p. 7). A fascination that has extended from her earliest childhood, these pumpkins provided the initial inspiration for her signature pattern, the expanse of dots developing as a stylized version of the kabocha’s natural markings. Kusama has pursued the motif across myriad colors, scales, and media, and spent decades following it to the extreme logic exemplified here. So intensely does Kusama identify with this image, that she has elevated it in Starry Pumpkin Silver to the status of a holy relic – a rich, dynamic, and deeply introspective work of resplendent brilliance.
Clearly demonstrating the two most recognizable characteristics of Kusama’s illustrious oeuvre, Starry Pumpkin Silver represents the apotheosis of a career-long pursuit of her own unique artistic vision. Here, through combining a pattern of glittering fantasy with an object of ubiquitous reality, this humble fruit is instilled with a dynamic energy that galvanizes the entire work. The resulting image is truly iconic, and for Kusama, crafting these patterns has become a vital method of meditation and catharsis. One of the most familiar and beloved images in contemporary art, Kusama’s pumpkins offer inspiration, motivation, “spiritual balance,” and, in the present work, breathtaking radiance.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.