HAPPY HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS: Celebrate Halloween in Style, the Yayoi Kusama way

Happy Halloween Everybody!

On this unusually hot and unbelievably sunny 31st October 2014 right here in London, I found the most perfect pumpkins to celebrate this year’s All Hallows’ Eve in style at Victoria Miro Gallery’s water garden at 16 Wharf Road, london N1 7RW, where three giant pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama currently reside.

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkins 2014 at Victoria Miro Water Garden.  Photograph courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery

As with all of Yayoi Kusama’s previous body of work on pumpkins, this new series of monumental sculptures also feature the stylised polka-dot patterns inspired by the close up of the natural patterning found on the pumpkin skin.

Yayoi Kusama’s stylised polka-dot patterns (left) inspired by the natural patterns found on pumpkin skin (right)

Here, the bumpy characteristic and rough texture of the skin are translated into the sculptures by the lightly embossed polka-dot patterns covering the overall knobby three-dimensional forms.

Embossed polka-dot patterns on one of the bronze pumpkin sculptures at Victoria Miro

As a fan of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins, I particularly enjoyed this new series because their exaggerated scale and embossed surfaces really captured the feeling of “hardiness” and “unpretentious everyday quality” which the artist had described so fondly about.  In Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, p.76, she wrote:

“‘Pumpkin head’ was an epithet used to disparage ugly, ignorant men, and the phrase ‘Put eyes and nose on a pumpkin’ evoked a pudgy and unattractive women.  It seems that pumpkins do not inspire much respect.  But I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form.  What appealed to me most was the pumpkin’s generous unpretentiousness.  that and its solid spiritual base”

I am fascinated by her affinity with nature and admire the extent to which she is able to draw inspirations from her childhood experiences that would translate a mundane vegetable into one of the most iconic abstract art in the world today.  Her dizzying polka-dot pattern inspired from the plant is beautiful and so sophisticated in its abstract form that it is hard to believe its origin can be so simple and humble.

The unique water garden at Victoria Miro also provides a most complementary settings for this new series of bronze sculptures, which according to the gallery, “have been two years in the making and mark the first time the artist has worked with bronze on such a large scale”.  Spending a late afternoon there, it was quite a wonderful experience to observe these monumental yet demure pumpkins sitting quietly, reflecting the sunlight off its polished skin, in dialogue with the rustling leaves in the wind and the occasional lapping of water from the nearby pond.  These giant sculptures, with their “charming and winsome form” seemed to feel so at home with the natural world surrounding them.

Bronze pumpkins during the day.  Photograph courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery

Yet at dusk when the sun was setting, these three pumpkins seemed to come alive and transformed into an imposing presence, casting long shadows from their dark and foreboding forms, overpowering its natural surrounding.  The whole transformation kind of caught me by surprise.  It was a little bit spooky and rather fitting for a Halloween evening…

Bronze pumpkins at dusk

For those of you who have not been, Yayoi Kusama’s bronze pumpkins are on display until 19 December 2014.  It is definitely worth a visit…


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous
    November 3, 2014 / 9:40 am

    Love this post!

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