Yayoi Kusama: The Spirits Of The Pumpkins Descended Into The Heavens | Adelaide | Review


Described as ‘the world’s most popular artist’, Yayoi Kusama (Japan, b. 1929) is best known for her immersive polka-dot and mirror installations. Her work is showing in Adelaide at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 1 April 2022.

Review by Claire Davill


Over the course of her 60-year career, Yayoi Kusama has engaged with an expansive idea of space and the human body. She uses several recurring motifs – dots, eyes, nets and pumpkins – to investigate repetition and to create sensory experiences that hint at the infinite.

THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS, 2017, is an installation comprising a vibrant yellow room overrun with black polka dots of various sizes.

At its centre is a mirrored box, inside which are several dozen illuminated pumpkin sculptures that can be seen through windows. The pumpkins, endlessly reflected in the room’s internal mirrors, are also vivid yellow and adorned with dots. The dazzling combination of dots, mirrors and pumpkins creates an optical illusion – a sensation of infinite space and colour.

Presented in partnership with National Gallery of Australia with thanks to the generous support of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnett

Play & Go Review:

The latest installation at the Art Gallery of South Australia is immersive and sure to enthral kids and adults alike.

by Claire Davill

Located in the main galleries, the installation is in a small room covered in dots with a large mirrored box in the centre. That alone creates a strange environment, but the real highlight is a small viewing window inside the mirrored box, which reveals an infinite world of spotted pumpkins.

The use of mirrors and light creates an amazing illusion where you struggle to figure out what is real and what is not. Kids will love visiting this installation!

Things to consider:

  • The installation room is quite small. Only 10 people are allowed in at a time, so if you visit during a busy time you may have to wait. There are gallery staff at the entrance to keep an eye on numbers and let people know when they can enter.
  • Because it is small, your visit will probably be quite brief. There is plenty more to see at the gallery, so make this one part of your visit.
  • The large amount of mirrors need to be clean for the best effect. Staff regularly wipe down the mirrors, but try to keep little hands away. This will be tricky because kids will want to lean and stare into the mirrors!
  • There are steps leading up to the viewing window but smaller kids will need a boost to see inside. Our 120cm tall six year old could just see inside standing on tip toes.

What we liked about it:

  • This piece is a great way for kids to interact with artwork
  • The photo possibilities are fabulous!
  • It’s free – as is the rest of the Gallery
  • Frequent visitors to the gallery will recognise the pumpkin theme from a nearby sculpture by the same artist (in the next gallery room)
  • The installation will be in place until 30 April 2023, so you have plenty of time to see it.

Check out The Studio at the Gallery for more free fun for kids

things to do in Adelaide for families

For more information and all enquiries please visit the AGSA website.

What:  Yayoi Kusama: The Spirits Of The Pumpkins Descended Into The Heavens

When:    1 April 2022 – 30 April 2023

Where:   Gallery 16 – Art Gallery of South Australia | North Terrace, Adelaide

Who:   Everyone 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

Image Source: all photos by Play & Go


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