Yayoi Kusama is bringing her largest-ever immersive environment to Manchester. Conceived especially for the soaring spaces of Factory International, Yayoi Kusama – You, Me and the Balloons celebrates three decades of the pioneering Japanese artist’s inflatable artworks, which are brought together for the first time in this major exhibition. Journey through Kusama’s psychedelic creations – many over 10m tall – including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres.
Kusama is renowned and adored for her surreal world of dots and pumpkins amongst other artistic motifs. Her hallucinatory paintings, sculptures, and immersive environments, such as her Infinity Mirror Rooms, take us beyond ourselves and make us feel part of something greater. Unique in her ability to conjure wonder while also asking bigger questions about human existence, millions of people queue for hours to spend just a minute in Kusama’s cosmos.
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture. From a young age, Yayoi Kusama experienced visual and auditory hallucinations and began creating net and polka-dot pattern pictures. In 1957, she went to the United States and began making net paintings and soft sculptures, as well as organising happenings and developing installations that made use of mirrors and lights, establishing herself as an avant-garde artist. Kusama discovered an artistic philosophy of self-obliteration via the obsessive repetition and multiplication of single motifs, which has informed her work throughout her career. Yayoi Kusama started using inflatable materials in her work in 1996. The artist represented Japan at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, and lives and works in Tokyo, where the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in October 2017.
Over the past decade there have been museum exhibitions of Kusama’s work touring the world in North America, Japan, Korea, Singapore, China, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Spain, England, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, Canada, Taiwan, Indonesia, Germany, and Israel. In 2016, Kusama received the Order of Culture, one of the highest honours bestowed by the Imperial Family. Kusama is the first woman to be honoured with the prestigious medal for drawings and sculptures.
Current exhibitions include Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now at M+, Hong Kong (12 November 2022–14 May 2023; Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Rooms at Tate Modern, London, UK (18 May 2021– 11 June 2023); One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (April 2022 – Spring 2023).
The MIF Festival is presented across Manchester with £10 tickets for all shows and many free events.
Factory International 2023 edition of Manchester International Festival (MIF) runs from 29 June to 16 July.