Posted at 8:00 a.m.
A ballet of lights soaring in the universe [Dancing Lights That Flew Up to the Universe] is Yayoi Kusama’s first solo exhibition in Quebec. The internationally renowned artist is now 93 years old and lives in Japan. She still produces works. The Phi Foundation has collaborated with his New York gallery (David Zwirner) to present a selection that reflects his journey.
Yayoi Kusama specialists will enjoy rediscovering the atmosphere of his immersions and some of his paintings and pumpkins, but the exhibition is mainly aimed at a public who does not know the artist or who knows him little, especially young people. This deployment, at 451 and 465, rue Saint-Jean, is particularly recommended for children of all ages, as the universe of Kusama is so playful, magical, shimmering and beneficial.
In the first room at 451, rue Saint-Jean, you can find his famous pumpkins, stemming from his youth spent in the heart of his parents’ nursery. However, it was her grandfather who awakened her to the charm of cucurbits. At the age of 19, she had started painting, then moved on to sculpture. Those presented at Phi are in polished bronze and lacquer, and quite large in size.
It is in the second room that we begin to enter its immersive universe with two kinds of closed cubic showcases forming mini observation rooms with mirrors ( peep in rooms). We approach small round portholes and we discover heaps of colors multiplied ad infinitum in which we distinguish reflections of our face and that of the neighbour!
The third floor is an information room on Yayoi Kusama with a series of photographs, from his birth to today, in order to better understand his career. Books can also be consulted on site.
We then head to 465, rue Saint-Jean where, in the first room, eight paintings from the series My Eternal Soul [Mon âme éternelle]. Naive, childlike and descriptive acrylics on canvas. With faces, profiles, eyeballs, amoebas, cell shapes, and more. Colorful paintings that Yayoi Kusama made between 2013 and 2016.
The exhibition obviously ends with the two rooms of infinite mirrors, Brilliance of the Souls (2014), and Dancing Lights That Flew Up to the Universe, the most recent (2019), which gives its name to the title of the exhibition. These two immersive experiences are Yayoi Kusama’s signature. She created about twenty of these small rooms in which one enters, preferably alone, and where one understands better his particular attraction for the cosmic world.
It would be a shame to reveal what one experiences upon entering these rooms. The images that we offer you already provide some clues to the effects felt. Just a word of advice, when you enter the first space of the work entitled Brilliance of the Souls, watch where you put your feet, because there is water on the ground, on the sides. And walk slowly through these spaces…
Before leaving the premises, go down to the basement of the building where Phi presents a participatory installation by the Montreal collective Doux Soft Club entitled location blue. An immersive environment created for the Kusama exhibition and made of different elements, between abstract sculptures and playful furniture, which you can touch, on which you can lie down, meditate or interact. Everything is possible ! This installation is a good end to a visit to the Phi Foundation, from which you come out feeling lighter.
So don’t rush to 451 Saint-Jean Street if you don’t have tickets for the exhibition. It has been several weeks since those of July flew away. On July 15, more tickets will be offered for visits in August (see link below). Same thing on August 15 and so on until the end of the exhibition, next January 15. Good visit !