Colorful Obliteration

Imagine a dream in which you are covered alive by dots. Slowly, splotches of color envelope your bodily form. The mass of color becomes suffocating. At once, you can no longer breathe or function.  Colorful dots have rendered you immobile. Then, suddenly you break free of the dots; however, this is only a temporary reprieve, as in a matter of seconds, minutes, hours or days, you will be covered again. For the artist Yayoi Kusama this was a traumatizing childhood reality. She was frequently paralyzed by her imagination, hallucinating that she was being brought to her death by seemingly harmless dots. Miraculously, rather than letting these hallucinations control her, she channeled her terror into creative potential. Expelling the demons from her head and relegating them to alternative existences on a canvas, the artist was able to cope with her troubled reality.

Kusama twisted depictions of color and bold juxtapositions of the realms of reality and imagination brought her artistic fame. Continuing to create in her late eighties, Yayoi Kusama most recently exhibited her work at David Zwirner, a contemporary art gallery in Chelsea. The show entitled “Give Me Love” was on view at the Gallery’s Chelsea location from May 9 to June 13th. Around 1,000 individuals per day visited the gallery to experience the obliteration room. Along with the artist’s works on canvas and sculptural creations shown in flanking rooms, the interactive obliteration room asserts Kusama’s dominant position over the demons of her past. Starting with a pure white miniature suburban house that was constructed within the gallery, the artist invited viewers to individually place colorful dots over the walls, objects, and floors. Visiting the gallery on the show’s final day, I observed the product of thousands of hand-placed colorful dots. The whitewashed room was obliterated with color. Yet, the effect was not chaotic. Kusama managed to craft an interactive artwork that highlighted the human ability to order disorder.


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