The KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature exhibition features new sculptures and the famous mirrored environments created by the celebrated Japanese artist, combining Art and Landscaping.

Yayoi Kusama (Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan) is one of the most well-known female living artists in the world. Her signature polka dot artwork made her instantly recognizable. Kusama’s installations and paintings possess an immersive quality, the artist wants us to explore her obsessions, reflections, and repetitions happening in her mind. 

The exhibition presents the artist’s lifelong fascination with the natural world, as the art installations merge and interact with The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG); a one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness and explore that kind of display. 

Kusama’s works suggest the patterns that we can observe all around us, a metaphor for being part of something bigger, connected to the essence of life. The exhibition is installed across the 250-acre Botanical Garden’s landscape, in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building including seasonal horticultural displays. 

Formerly postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibit evolves into four experiences that focus on Kusama’s relationship with greenhouses and the fields of her family, regressing back to her childhood, her family had a plant nursery and were seed farm owners.

Founded in 1891, The NYBG is the most comprehensive botanical garden in the world; its conservatory supports a living collection of more than one million plants and eleven million archival items in its botanical and horticultural library. They will be hosting the exposition until October 31, 2021.

Yayoi Kusama, Art, and Aesthetics as a Design Inspiration

The role of Kusama’s art as a design inspiration is well extended from fashion to furniture, and visual aesthetics. Through the years this Japanese artist has created  a powerful artistic dialogue about taboo topics such as, mental illness, vivid hallucinations (where she extracted her “infinity nets”), or what she calls “self-obliteration”, as the form to express to the world what is happening inside of her mind.  

It is mesmerizing how some of Kusama’s creations, mostly related to death or paranoia, find a new light into the garden’s setting as the multiple outdoor installations, including monumental sculptures of flora, and her signature polka-dotted organic forms can be surrounded by life at its best. 

This vivid observation of nature, completely appropriate for the current times, brings some of her earliest works into the public eye, and some of them are presented for the first time in the United States. 

“For Kusama, cosmic nature is a life force that integrates the terrestrial and celestial orders of the universe from both the micro and macrocosmic perspectives she investigates in her practice. Her explorations evoke meanings that are both personal and universal” stated guest curator, Mika Yoshitake as she considers nature, not only as her inspiration but also integral to the visceral effects in Kusama’s artistic language. 

The show is organized between the gardens, inside of the galleries, and in the library, where the visitor can find examples of her botanical drawings, works on paper, biomorphic collages, assemblage boxes, sculptures, and paintings. Any outdoors and exterior design lover will be amazed by the curator’s work.

Inside the exhibition, her world is alive. I Want To Fly to the Universe, is a 13-foot-high bright purple-tentacled anthropometric floral form in the reflecting pool by the visitor’s center. Also, the monumental Dancing Pumpkin, a 16-foot-high bronze sculpture, painted in black and yellow, is sited in an immersive landscape of river birches, flowering plants, and grasses. 

Her famous Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, in vibrant red and white polka dots, soaring in the trees, and Narcissus Garden, a 1,400 stainless steel spheres floating on the water’s surface creating a captivating effect, mirroring the entire environment and changing as the wind does, have an important presence in the exteriors. 

The Infinity Mirrored Room- Illusion Inside the Heart, will operate with protocols and guidelines for social distancing and visitor safety for interior access to begin this summer. 

The pink-and-gold mosaic Starry Pumpkin is featured in a woodland garden of foliage and flowers have been chosen to harmonize with the sculpture’s pink polka dots. The NYBG horticulturists have designed a “living work of art” effect, using Kusama’s painting Alone, Buried in a Flower Garden as inspiration. They want to mimic the painting’s bold shapes and colors, with plantings changed seasonally. A great dynamic and example of how to bring art in the outdoors and to use landscaping techniques

“Dancing through our universe are noble souls whose magnificent forms are saturated with mystery” stated Yayoi Kusama, in an invitation to the public to explore the “beauty of love that is [her] art”.

At the intersection of art, landscape design, nature, and the cosmos, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature exhibition is for sure a once-in-a-lifetime presentation that will continue inspiring an entire generation.