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12,000 km for Kusama

April 9th, 2018

Two people taking pictures with their phones of a brightly lit Infinity Mirror Room.

Image by Felicia Shiu.

Incredible artists can inspire art lovers to travel great distances to see their work. Yayoi Kusama is definitely one of these artists. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors has drawn visitors from the city, the province, the United States… and even Hong Kong!

Globe-trotting art lover Felicia Shiu was born in Canada and raised in Montreal and Toronto. Throughout her childhood, she enjoyed visits to the AGO to see her favourite pieces, including Paul Peel’s painting After the Bath, Henry Moore’s sculptures and Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger. And even after moving to Hong Kong for work seven years ago, she still pops into the Gallery on the rare occasions when she’s in town. But her most recent trip to the AGO was special – it centred around her visit to Kusama’s exhibition – and was booked only after securing her tickets as a Long Distance Member.

We spoke with Felicia about why she made the transatlantic trip for Yayoi Kusama.

A photograph of the AGOs installation of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.

Image by Felicia Shiu.

AGO: How long have you been a fan of Yayoi Kusama’s work?
Felicia: I’ve seen pieces of her work over the years at different museums in Buffalo, New York and Baltimore. When I read about the multi-city tour, I jumped on the AGO website to find out when the exhibition was running in Toronto. I hope to get to Tokyo to see her new museum there.

AGO: What draws you to her work?
Felicia: There is an element of whimsy and fun in her work, which makes it interesting and thought-provoking. Her use of a kaleidoscope-like mix of colour also appeals to me. I love how she has become an artist du jour after 70 years of making art.

Plus, it’s hard to miss all the buzz around her Infinity Mirror Rooms. Her immersive and obsessive interest in lights, polka dots and infinity has made her an Instagram-able artist, which I believe makes her work more accessible. Hopefully, her work and this show will create a new generation of art lovers.

A photo of the Yayoi Kusama painting, "Dots Obsession XZQBA."

Dots Obsession XZQBA (2007). Image by Felicia Shiu.

AGO: What was the highlight of the exhibition for you?
Felicia: The Infinity Mirror Rooms were fascinating and quirky. I also really liked her acrylic on canvas paintings, Dots Obsession XZQBA (2007) which was monochrome, and Accumulation of Stardust (2001) which was in three red panels. They looked like smooth river stones. She works in many different ways – painting, sculpture and the mirror rooms – that makes her body of work even more interesting.

Plus, I loved seeing how happy everyone was to post their polka dot stickers in The Obliteration Room – adults and children alike. There was a palpable joy in the room to be able to participate in the exhibition.

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