Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is one of the most celebrated living artists. With a career spanning more than 60 years, Kusama is recognized for her immersive installations that explore ideas of infinity and obliteration. Kusama’s obsessive patterning of polka dots and use of nets reference a series of aural and visual hallucinations that have haunted the artist for most of her life.
Commissioned for the NGV Triennial, Flower obsession, 2017, revisits the origins of Kusama’s art, which she traces back to her childhood. As she describes, “One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant, my soul was obliterated … This was not an illusion but reality itself.”
Flower Obsession recreates a furnished domestic space. Visitors were invited to apply red flower motifs to the walls, furniture, and objects. Over the duration of the exhibition, the proliferation of flowers has gradually covered all surfaces, ‘obliterating’ and transforming the space into a spectacular environment.