M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, presents the museum’s first Special Exhibition: Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, opened on M+’s first anniversary, 12 November 2022 (Saturday) through 14 May 2023 (Sunday), with HSBC as Lead Sponsor.
Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now is the largest retrospective of renowned artist Yayoi Kusama in Asia outside Japan, featuring more than 200 works from major collections from museums and private collections in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the M+ Collection, as well as from the artist’s own collection. Co-curated by Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial and Chief Curator, M+, and Mika Yoshitake, independent curator, the exhibition introduces a new interpretative approach to Kusama’s over seven-decade career and invites viewers to discover the transformative power of art. The retrospective highlights the core aesthetic elements of Kusama’s work and foregrounds her recurring philosophical questions about life and death and her longing for interconnectedness. The exhibition explores how Kusama has become a global cultural icon who creates vital and influential work to this day.
Yayoi Kusama. Self-Obliteration, 1966-1974. Painted mannequins, table, chairs, wigs, handbag, mugs, plates, pitcher, ashtray, plastic plants, plastic flowers, and plastic fruit. Dimension variable. M+, Hong Kong. © YAYOI KUSAMA.
Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, says, ‘M+ has achieved unprecedented success in its first year of opening on 12 November 2021. Notwithstanding the temporary closure of the museum from January to April this year due to the pandemic, it has already welcomed over 1.53 million visitors. This strong show of public support is a testament to the museum’s role in transforming and enriching the cultural ecology in Hong Kong and Asia and making contemporary visual culture more accessible to all. We are proud to present Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now to our audiences, as the internationally acclaimed artist’s cross-disciplinary and global art practice resonates with the essence of what M+ offers. We look forward to another splendid year ahead with a terrific line-up of exhibitions and programmes.’
Yayoi Kusama. Accumulation of Stardust, 2001. acrylic on canvas, three panels. 194 × 390 cm. Matsumoto City Museum of Art. © YAYOI KUSAMA.
Organised chronologically and thematically, and spanning from Kusama’s earliest work to her most recent output, Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now features a wide range of paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, collages, moving images, and archival materials. The exhibition examines Kusama's practice as it developed in Japan, the United States, Europe, and beyond through six themes: Infinity, Accumulation, Radical Connectivity, Biocosmic, Death, and Force of Life.
The exhibition presents three brand-new works to audiences for the first time. Death of Nerves (2022) is a large-scale installation commissioned by M+. Installed in the Lightwell that connects the museum’s ground floor and the basement levels and draping down to the Found Space on the B2 level, the work can be viewed from multiple vantages throughout the M+ building. Dots Obsession—Aspiring to Heaven's Love (2022), presented in The Studio on the B2 level, is an ambitious immersive environment that includes one of the artist’s signature mirrored spaces. Two large sculptures titled Pumpkin (2022) will be available for public viewing in the Main Hall on the ground floor.
Yayoi Kusama. Pound of Repose, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 194x194cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner. © YAYOI KUSAMA
To accompany the exhibition, Thames & Hudson will publish Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now in collaboration with M+. Edited by Doryun Chong and Mika Yoshitake, this comprehensive and richly illustrated 400-page publication features contributions by the editors as well as Isabella Tam, Associate Curator, Visual Art, M+, and Alex A. Jones, independent researcher and writer. The publication is a collection of curatorial essays, thematic texts, a visual chronology of Kusama’s life, a roundtable discussion with leading authorities in the field, and a selection of poetry, manifestoes, past interviews, and previously unpublished artist writings. Both English and Chinese editions are available for pre-order at the M+ Shop online starting from 15 September 2022. In addition, a series of public programmes will be available throughout the exhibition period. Visitors are invited to dive deeper into Kusama’s art practice with curators’ talks, screenings, and family-friendly activities with details to be announced later.
Yayoi Kusama. PORTRAIT, 2015. Acrylic on canvas. 145.5x112cm. Collection of Amoli Foundation Ltd.© YAYOI KUSAMA
Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial and Chief Curator, M+, says, ‘Yayoi Kusama is one of the most influential and inspiring artists of our time. Her Asian roots, transnational history, as well as her singular artistic language and philosophy that she has developed from the 1940s to now, have all contributed to making her the leading cultural figure she is now globally. This is the first time in Greater China the full trajectory of Kusama’s art is presented in a comprehensive retrospective exhibition providing a holistic and unique perspective on the accomplishments of this visionary artist.
Mika Yoshitake, independent curator, says, ‘M+’s exhibition sheds new light on Yaoyi Kusama’s art philosophy and life. Kusama has transformed her personal experiences—the challenges she has faced in her career, as well as her lifelong battle with mental health—into a creative force through the regenerative power of healing amidst our global pandemic era. We are delighted to introduce audiences to this artist’s profound vision through new thematic trajectories as well a newly commissioned work.’
About Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Japan) is one of the most important and influential Asian artists in the history of contemporary art. She is renowned for her prolific and ground-breaking practice, spanning paintings, sculptures, performances, moving images, and large-scale installations. Trained in traditional Japanese painting, she moved to the United States in 1957 and soon established herself in the American and European avant-garde for her unique and radical artistic language. She returned to Japan in 1973 and has relentlessly reinvented and created art that resonates with the time in which she lives.
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, it is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. M+ is a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.
About the Exhibition
Dates: 12 Nov 2022 – 14 May 2023
Venue: West Gallery, The Studio, Main Hall, Lightwell, Found Space, M+
Courtesy of M+ and the West Kowloon Cultural District.