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Jakarta Review: Yayoi Kusama Exhibition at Museum MACAN

The long-awaited time has come. See Yayoi Kusama's colourful works at Museum MACAN Jakarta. There is no need to go abroad because in 2018 the exhibition is at MACAN (Museum Of Contemporary Art In Nusantara). For those who want to come, don't miss it because this year is the last stop of a series of touring exhibitions of Yayoi Kusama's works that have previously been held at the National Gallery in Singapore, Queensland Art Gallery and various other countries. This year's exhibition also includes works such as Flower and Untitled (Child Mannequin), which were previously unavailable in Singapore and Brisbane.


This year is also the second time Museum MACAN has presented Yayoi Kusama's work. While in 2017 it was only the Infinity Mirrored Room installation. There are 3 time periods featured in the Yayoi Kusama exhibition: Life Is The Heart Of A Rainbow. The first period, when Yayoi started creating polka dot, net and flower motifs in the 1950s. The second period, when Yayoi moved out of Japan and started working in the United States. The third period is the period of Yayoi's fragility, when she returned to Japan and began treatment in a mental hospital.

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Polka dot tickets


Who is Yayoi Kusama


Yayoi Kusama is a contemporary painter, writer, sculptor, photographer, installer and artist from Japan. Her work is based on conceptual art, showing some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, pop art, Brut art and abstract expressionism. Her work is also filled with autobiographical, psychological and sexual content. Since the age of 10, Yayoi has been hallucinating about polka dots and started to produce fantastic polka dot paintings using watercolours, pastels and oils. The polka dots motif is Yayoi Kusama's trademark. She calls them Infinity Nets, a series of nets and polka dots that come from her collection of hallucinations. Yayoi has many mental illnesses from depression, bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia. The pastel colours she always uses in her works are a product of the obsessional neurosis associated with her mental illness. Yayoi translates the fear and hallucinations she often sees into paintings as a means to cure her illness. The great thing about Yayoi is that she managed to process all her illnesses into art masterpieces around the world. In my personal opinion, Yayoi Kusama is an art genius. All the shortcomings that exist in her managed to make her an advantage. For details about Yayoi can be read here.


"A polka dot has the shape of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our life, and also the shape of the moon, which is calm, round, soft, colorful, senseless and ignorant. Polka dots become movement.... Polka dots are the way to infinity". - Yayoi Kusuma, in Manhattan Suicide Addict

Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart Of A Rainbow


This is the theme of Yayoi Kusama's exhibition which will be held from 12 May - 9 September 2019 in Jakarta. There are 130 of Yayoi's works on display at the exhibition. These include paintings, videos, sculptures and installations. This year's exhibition focuses on Yayoi's works that she has been working on for almost 70 years. For those who are going to Museum MACAN for the first time, you can read the review and tips here.


Highlights Pameran Yayoi Kusama: Life is the heart of a rainbow


1. Flower That Bloom At Midnight

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Upon entering, you will be greeted with a Polka dot flower statue.


Inside the museum are two giant polka dot flowers that remind me of alien flora in the movies. The surface of the flowers is shiny and there seem to be big eyes staring from various angles.


2. Great Gigantic Pumpkin [2013]

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Giant pumpkin sculpture


This giant pumpkin sculpture has a special memory for Yayoi because when she was in elementary school, she first saw pumpkins on her grandfather's farm. The previous year the sculpture was black and red. This year it is black and yellow, which is Yayoi's favourite colour.


3. Dots Obsession [2009]

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Polka dot installation salami a box

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Queuing in front of the Dots Obsession room installation [2009] - human time 20 seconds for photos


Dots Obession was created because since childhood Yayoi had often hallucinated being in a room filled with polka dots. In the Dots Obsession area, there are two installations, a box and a room. Both contain giant balloons, large dots and mirrors. For the room installation, only 20 seconds are allowed for photos.


4. Narcissus Garden [1966/2002]

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5. Untitled [Child Unwanted]

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Premiered at Museum MACAN


Among all the works on display, the Untitled sculpture was one of my favourites. I stood for 10 minutes looking at this sculpture and felt touched. Somehow I could feel Yayoi's sadness as a child. Hiks.


6. Infinity Nets [1951]

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Forgot the name of the painting


This area contains a collection of Infinity Nets paintings with the theme of abstract expressionism.

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An anti-mainstream pose in one of the Infinity Nets paintings


7. The Spirits of The Pumpkins Descended Into Heavens [2015]

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Escorted by officers entering the installation room The Pumpkins Descended Into Heavens


To enter the room, you have to take off your shoes and you are only given 20 seconds to be in this room. It is located in the Experiments in Japan area. In addition to the room's installation, there are also statues and several Pumpkin-themed paintings.

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One of the famous Pumpkin paintings


8. Love Forever [2004-2007]


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This area contains several paintings with monochrome themes and is synonymous with children's drawings.


9. My Eternal Soul [2017]

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It's great to see all the paintings in this area


My Eternal Soul is a collection of recent works by Yayoi Kusama. Each painting is full of images including eyes, faces and other indeterminate shapes such as cell structures with prominent colour combinations.


10. I Want To Love On The Festival Night [2017]

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A colourful light installation inside a 220×214.3x185cm box that changes colour every 2 seconds


11. Manhattan Suicide Addict [2005]

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Goosebumps watching Yayoi sing Song of Manhattan Suicide Addict


The almost 2-minute video shows Yayoi Kusama reading poetry about her worldview from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. Yayoi left Japan in the late 1950s because her family life traumatized her. Yayoi became more creative when she moved to New York because she poured her trauma into art. For those who have Trypophobia, I do not recommend being in this room.


12. Infinity Mirrored Room – Brilliance Of The Souls [2014]

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Not lost in space


A small, dark room, surrounded by mirrors and colourful light bulbs. Be careful when entering the room, as there is a U-shaped pool of water around it. No bags are allowed in the room and you must be prepared to queue for 1 hour because this room is a favourite with many visitors.

Exhibition Review


For those who have trypophobia like me, I do not recommend coming here. Trypophobia is an excessive fear of holes in a surface that are located close together. At first I thought it was okay to come here, because my phobia did not appear when I saw Yayoi Kusama's colorful designs. For 2 hours inside the exhibition, there was no problem either. It was only when I left the building that I realised I had sat for 10 minutes in the screening area of Manhattan Suicide Addict. In the film, there were many close-ups of the hole motif, but it didn't really seem real because the film moved quickly. Without realizing it, what was in the film slowly entered my subconscious. As a result, every time I closed my eyes, I always saw the motif of the holes in slow motion, which eventually led to my phobia. As a result, I immediately felt nauseous, could not sleep and vomited all night. Before coming here, you should test whether you have Trypophobia first here.


Overall as an art lover, I am very impressed to see Yayoi Kusama's work which is so neatly arranged, colorful and full of meaning. Seeing and understanding her work made me feel like I was inside Yayoi's mind. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the security in the museum. For those who want to know my disappointment, you can read it here. For those who have visited the museum, which of Yayoi Kusama's works do you like the most? For those who are planning to go there, hopefully my review will be useful for guidance 🙂

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