Yayoi Kusama - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “I would confront the spirit of the pumpkin, forgetting everything else and concentrating my mind entirely upon the form before me. Just as Bodhidharma spent ten years facing a stone wall, I spent as much as a month facing a single pumpkin. I regretted even having to take time to sleep”
    —Yayoi Kusama

    It was during her childhood visit to a seed nursery near her home in Matsumoto, Japan, that Yayoi Kusama first stumbled across a pumpkin. Afflicted with visual and auditory hallucinations, Kusama vividly recalls the pumpkin speaking to her younger self from the vine. Drawn to its "humorous form" and "warm feeling", Kusama has since developed a lifelong fascination with the humble fruit.

     

    After her first attempt at depicting this subject matter in the traditional Japanese nihonga style in 1946, Kusama continued to paint pumpkins diligently during her four-year-study at the Kyoto Senior High School of Art. Despite a temporary hiatus from the pumpkin after her relocation to New York in 1958, Kusama revisited her beloved motif in the 1970s, reimagining it in various mediums and scales in the subsequent decades.

     

    “I use my complexes and fears as subjects. I make them and make them and then keep on making them, until I bury myself in the process”
    —Yayoi Kusama

    Created in 1999, Pumpkin MT brings together three prominent motifs in Kusama’s oeuvre – the pumpkin, polka dot, and infinity net. Set against an expansive background of net-like patterns that directly evoke her Infinity Net series, the vivid yellow pumpkin is covered with polka dots of alternating sizes. In delineating its slightly elongated, curvaceous shape, Kusama elevates the object through her at once graceful and whimsical treatment.

     

    In addition to these recurring motifs, Kusama further explores the central theme of repetition in Pumpkin MT through her adopted medium of screenprint. As she slowly builds up the form of the pumpkin through the accumulative use of polka dots, the near-meditative practice allows the artist to combat and transcend her hallucinatory mental illness. Simultaneously advancing and receding, the rhythmic dynamism of the dots imbues the pumpkin with an animated quality, creating a dazzling effect that transports the viewer into Kusama’s fantastical world.

    • Literature

      Yayoi Kusama 257

    • Artist Biography

      Yayoi Kusama

      Japanese

      Named "the world's most popular artist" in 2015, it's not hard to see why Yayoi Kusama continues to dazzle contemporary art audiences globally. From her signature polka dots—"fabulous," she calls them—to her mirror-and-light Infinity Rooms, Kusama's multi-dimensional practice of making art elevates the experience of immersion. To neatly pin an artistic movement onto Kusama would be for naught: She melds and transcends the aesthetics and theories of many late twentieth century movements, including Pop Art and Minimalism, without ever taking a singular path.

      As an octogenarian who still lives—somewhat famously—in a psychiatric institution in Tokyo and steadfastly paints in her immaculate studio every day, Kusama honed her punchy cosmic style in New York City in the 1960s. During this period, she staged avant-garde happenings, which eventually thrust her onto the international stage with a series of groundbreaking exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1980s and the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. She continues to churn out paintings and installations at inspiring speed, exhibiting internationally in nearly every corner of the globe, and maintains a commanding presence on the primary market and at auction.

      View More Works

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Pumpkin MT (K. 257)

1999
Screenprint in colours, on Arches paper, with full margins.
I. 44 x 36.6 cm (17 3/8 x 14 3/8 in.)
S. 59.5 x 50.4 cm (23 3/8 x 19 7/8 in.)

Signed, titled, dated and annotated 'P.P.' in pencil (one of 5 printer's proofs, the edition was 110 and 11 artist's proofs), framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £56,700

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 18 - 19 January 2023