The Forever Museum of Contemporary Art (FMOCA) is located in the heart of Kyoto, Japan’s historic entertainment district, the Gion. The museum is now showing “My Soul Forever,” through Feb. 25, featuring the work of pop artist Yayoi Kusama. The museum’s name is closely linked to a main theme of Kusama’s work: infinity. By the end of a visit to FMOCA, one may come to appreciate Kusama’s use of the repeated patterns of dots and nets to represent the world in terms of its limitlessness and timelessness. Pictured below is a 1992 work by Kusama (Yellow Trees, acrylic on canvas) in which a seemingly infinite number of tree root-like figures are intertwined in a seemingly endless manner.
As you enter the museum site, a giant pumpkin with polka dots greets you (Pumpkin, 2007, mixed media). This 5-meter-tall 3-D art seems to clash with the traditional Japanese architecture behind it. The building that houses the museum was originally a performance theater for geiko (the better known word geisha is referred to as geiko in Kyoto), and was built in 1873. Inside the museum, her colorful, surreal style may look out of place in the subtle tonality of a traditional tatami (straw mat flooring) room to many eyes.
Without a doubt, the highlight of exhibition is A Boat Carrying My Soul (1989, Mixed media), which sits on the former Miyako dance stage. Kusama used a life-sized wooden boat filled with fabric covered objects resembling colorful fruits. As the title suggests, she created the boat as if it were a vehicle to ride to the next world or into eternity -certainly a departure from the current world. For a short video filmed by Les Loschky, please click here. https://youtu.be/i0aHZqulCWc
For those who wish to enjoy Kusama’s work both inside and out, the museum offers light meals and desserts in the cafeteria, where they serve Kusama-inspired sweets, including strawberry roll cakes with polka dots.
My whole experience at FMOCA has led me to realize that even traditional Japanese art forms (e.g., Miyako dance, the traditional performance art of Kyoto geisha) were part of pop culture at one time. Thus, the installation of Kusama’s work at the former Gion Kaburenjyo Theater makes perfect sense. Like the art of Miyako dance these artworks transport the viewer to another place and time.
The photos above are of the only things visitors are allowed to photograph in Kusama’s exhibit. Here is the link to additional views from their website. http://www.fmoca.jp/
Reported by Miki Loschky, Beach Museum of Art