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The Yayoi Kusama Exhibit In Montreal Opens A Window Into Her Whimsical World (FIRST LOOK)

Visitors can connect the dots between the artist’s past and present. 🟢🟠🟣

MTL Blog, Staff Writer
​Someone peers into a window illuminated with green light. Right: A person surrounded by mirrors and glowing orange, pink, and green spheres that look like they go on forever.

Someone peers into a window illuminated with green light. Right: A person surrounded by mirrors and glowing orange, pink, and green spheres that look like they go on forever.

For the first time ever, works by world-renowned contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama are on solo display in Quebec. A new, free exhibit at Montreal’s PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art opens on July 6, showcasing a sample of the prolific creator’s works, including sculptures, paintings, and two of her famed infinity rooms. Each breathtaking installation highlights Kusama’s interest in cosmic vastness and coming to terms with our tiny place among the stars.

No matter the medium, Kusama’s works feature vibrant dots that are a primary motif in her work. Much like specks of light in the night sky, these tiny, repetitive patterns reference the infinite, offering moments of self-reflection or an escape into anonymity.

“There is a side of us that connects with her work — the colours, the shapes, and the questions that they evoke,” said curator Cheryl Sim.

“That’s what has made her so popular and made her work resonate with people for so long.”

Someone looks at one of three oversized brass pumpkins covered in dots in a room with a wooden floor and concrete column.Someone looks at one of three oversized brass pumpkins covered in dots in a room with a wooden floor and concrete column.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

The 93-year-old artist's productivity and creativity have not slowed, and she continues to push the boundaries of avant-garde well into her seven-decade career.

The first room of the exhibition is home to several larger-than-life spotted brass pumpkins, another signature shape from Kusama’s body of work.

One floor up, two peep-in infinity spaces introduce viewers to smaller versions of her walk-in installations, like a giant kaleidoscope you can gently peer into.

The mirrored blocks can be viewed from multiple sides through different-sized windows. Lights flash and change colour inside, creating a psychedelic show.

A third room features a reading area and a guided photographic tour through Kusama’s life. There, you can see firsthand just how prolific and varied her body of work is.

A person looks at eight massive canvases covered in repeating patterns, like faces, dots, and lines.A person looks at eight massive canvases covered in repeating patterns, like faces, dots, and lines.@willa.hhh | Instagram

The rest of the exhibit is housed in another space that can only be accessed by exiting the first building, so prepare for a brief walk. If you look through the windows to your right just at street level, you can catch a sneak peek of the installation bleu de lieu, an interactive, tactile arrangement of squishy foam shapes by the artistic collective doux soft club.

In the second building are eight paintings, immersive due to their giant scale, bursting with primary colours and simplified repeating patterns.

Someone's reflection in a mirrored room full of spheres of light that seem endless.Someone's reflection in a mirrored room full of spheres of light that seem endless.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

Just around the corner, finally, you will arrive in front of two infinity mirrored rooms. With just a few fleeting minutes in each, you’ll have to make the most of your time in these shimmering spaces, which feel and look endless – but be sure to only take a few steps in, they’re deceptively small!

“They will have you asking questions of an existential nature,” said Sim.

The Kusama exhibit at Fondation PHI runs through January 15, 2023. While admission is free, you must reserve your date and time in advance. The show is fully booked for July, but tickets for the month of August will be released on July 15 at noon. Each visit lasts about 45 minutes.

Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE

Hundreds of tiny dots of light in different colours reflected in a neverending pattern.

Hundreds of tiny dots of light in different colours reflected in a neverending pattern.

@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

When: July 6, 2022 - January 15, 2023

Where: Fondation PHI pour l’art contemporain, 451 & 465 rue Saint-Jean

Cost: Free, but a reservation is required.

Accessibility: Partially accessible for those with reduced mobility. The building at 451 Saint-Jean is wheelchair accessible, but the sidewalk on Saint-Jean Street is narrow. There is an elevator that services all four floors, and an accessible bathroom in the basement. The main entrance of the gallery at 465 Saint-Jean has stairs leading into the main hallway. There is an accessible entrance at the back of the building, located in the parking area. There is no accessible bathroom in that building.

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