Yayoi Kusama: Life is the heart of a rainbow

Hey guys,

Have you heard about Yayoi Kusama expo in Singapore? I guess so, it’s all over the place since weeks now! Well, we thought it was about time to check it out last weekend.

Practical information:

  • Exposition is held from the 9th of June to the 3rd of September
  • Entry fees is of $15 for Singaporeans/PRs, $25 for Non-Singaporeans
  • Location: Level 3 of the gallery
  • Opening hours: Sun-Thu and public holidays 10am-7pm; Fri-Sat and eve of public holidays 10am-10pm
  • The exposition is always crowded during the weekend, prefer to come during the week if you can, or at the beginning of the opening hours
  • You can purchase your ticket online up to 24hours before the date of your visit, to avoid the queue at ticketing and ensure that you can access the exposition (first time we went, the expo was already fully booked for the day!)
  • Go for a drink at level 6 of the Gallery after the exposition

The exposition is composed of 4 galleries – A, B, C & H – which are implemented in the chronological order of the artist’s career. In order to avoid long queues, a guide advised us to start by C and H, which we did.

Gallery C

The gallery C is exhibiting the newest work of the artist.

The first room displays black and white paintings of the artists, some of them appearing in the book ‘The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen & Yayoi Kusama: A Fairy Tale of Infinity and Love Forever”. The earliest pieces of this collection were actually created with only a black marker – later on, Yayoi switched to black acrylic. In the middle of the room, a box with holes can be found. Placing your head inside, you enter a world of colors and infinity spaces.

The second room leads you to an installation of the artist: With all my love for the tulips; Pray forever. This installation creates a new world filled with dots, where tulips emerge and merge with their environment. It represents her concept of self-obliteration and mirrors the hallucinations that the artist experienced since she was 10 years old.

The third room is dedicated to her series: My Eternal Soul. Yayoi started this series in 2009, thinking of painting 100 large canvas. The series is still ongoing as of today and already represents 500 paintings. The National Gallery of Singapore exposes 24 of these paintings at the moment.

Gallery H

The Gallery H is in the City Hall Chamber and displays the Narcissus Garden. The installation comprises hundred of shimmering balls, where viewers can see their own reflection. Yayoi’s idea is to force a confrontation with one’s own vanity and ego.

Gallery A

Gallery A displays the earliest work of the artist. Within the paintings can be found the Infinity Nets, which are canvas covered by small tight loops painted repeatedly. The first ones of the paintings were monochromes, but later included shifts in colour and techniques. Moving along the gallery, famous paitings of the Pumkins can be seen.

Gallery A also displays an installation called “Tthe spirits of the pumpkins descended into the heavens“. However, the queue was so long that we got discouraged to glance at it – I hope that you will have better luck than us!

Gallery B

This gallery is the last one of the exhibition. Entering it, you will walk through rooms filled with mirrors, reflecting everyone passing by. The main room is composed of several artworks from the artist, including a rated 18 area, depicting, amongst others, the protestations that Yayoi took part of. In the middle of the room can be found the installation Gleaming lights of the souls, an infinity mirrored room. This installation takes place within a box and displays a kaleidoscopic environment. Once again, the queue was very long to get inside the box, so we didn’t have the chance to glimpse inside of it. The exposition ends with some other artworks of the artist, mixing painting and sculpturing. The final room of this gallery screens a video installation – Song of a Manhattan suicide addict. It shows Yayoi singing a song that she wrote, depicting her experience going through a depression. On the background of the video, some of her artworks are appearing sequentially. A moving video of the artist.

Overall review

We heard a lot about the exposition before to finally go for it – useless to say, our expectations were high. We knew in advance that it would be crowded and high in colors, and indeed, it is! Our favorite gallery was C, with the most recent work of the artist. Overall, the queues were long, very long… making us miss most of the big installations of the artist as we were already tired of waiting to enter the galleries. A bit deceptive to realize that after the queues for the galleries, you need to queue again to go inside the installations… That would mean around 40min++ wait in each gallery to see installations for 5min? No thanks.

Definitely worthwhile to go if you are available during weekdays so that you can get away from the crowded hours and enjoy the exhibition as its fullest, without the queues ;-). Otherwise, go ahead during the weekends if you really are a fan of the artist and are ready to wait long times to see each artwork from the exhibitions, or if like us, seeing 80% of the artworks while skipping big installations is not such a big deal…

What to do after the expo?

Go up to level 6 of the National Gallery, and enjoy a drink at Aura or Smoke & Mirrors. Both rooftop bars offer a panoramic view over Singapore – one of the best in my opinion! Just sit back, enjoy the view and the drink, and soak in the artwork that you experienced.


What are your thoughts ?