Whimsical Fireflies

Phoenix Art Museum presents work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama’s You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies is one of the artist’s more whimsical works. Inspired by a Japanese folktale about a person in a field with 10,000 fireflies, Kusama’s work brings the fairy tale to life.

Beginning with drawings and paintings, Kusama’s work transformed from 2-D pieces to large-scale installations, symbolic of the obsessive and massive nature of her ideas. Subsequently, Kusama’s art began to take large forms and often utilizes entire rooms and spaces.

The piece is a dark room lined with mirrors on every surface and strands of looping LED lighting suspended from the ceiling. This deceptively small room feels as if it’s a vast, infinite galaxy of lighting and allows the viewer to enter and be surrounded or obliterated by Kusama’s fireflies.

Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room explores the psychedelic sensations of the “self” and the artist’s ongoing hallucinations that started when she was a child. In this work, Kusama’s repetitive and extensive use of polka dots, mirrors and LED lights explores infinite repetition and encourages you to “obliterate” your personality and become one with eternity.

A pioneer of perceptual experiences, Kusama expresses a complex balance between her psychological obsessions and her aesthetic control over them. In the late 1950s, she left Japan for New York City. Her work spans paintings, performances, installations, sculptures, films, fashion and literary works. Her art transcended the Pop and Minimalist movements of the 20th century and reflects the mind-altering spirituality of hippie culture.


Yayoi Kusama: You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies 

Through Dec. 31

Phoenix Art Museum, Katz Wing of Modern Art, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

For more information, visit phxart.org.

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