Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow – photo tour

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Red Entrance

Step into a world of infinity at YAYOI KUSAMA: Life Is The Heart Of A Rainbow, an exhibition now showing at National Gallery Singapore.

This is an amazing exhibition with some 120 works spanning seven decades of works by Yayoi Kusama. It’s definitely a must-go, which is why this entry is a megapost. There are two sections: the Photo Tour highlighting the art first, and followed with a pictorial Exhibition Guide so you can know what to expect when you visit.

If you can’t visit, enjoy the photos then! I will be posting more on Instagram (@dejiki).

Exhibition Photo Tour

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Gallery A works

Dots, nets and pumpkins – recurring elements in Kusama’s work form the introductory arc of this exhibition. As a meticulously consistent artist, themes and styles can be drawn from her early works from 1950s.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Early works

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Infinity nets

Infinity Nets

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Imagery of human beings

Imagery of human beings

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets No. 2

Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets No.2

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / The Spirits of Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, viewed aside

The Spirits of Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens

A yellow room completely covered with black dot stickers, with a dual-sided mirror cube in the middle.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / The Spirits of Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, interior

Peek inside to see the Pumpkins, which Kusama has strong attachments with since young. You’ll see her iconic Pumpkins in numerous forms in this exhibition.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Pumpkin painting

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Starry Pumpkin

Starry Pumpkin

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Invisible Life walk-in

Invisible Life. Convex mirrors, reflecting the dots around and within.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Invisible Life, mirror drama

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Entering the Infinity Mirrored Room: Gleaming Lights of the Souls

Infinity Mirrored Room: Gleaming Lights of the Souls. The most popular piece is no doubt the installation within this white box.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Infinity Mirrored Room: Gleaming Lights of the Souls

Dots and nets from the paintings are transformed into a spell-binding, yet fleeting experience. (Find out why in the Guide below).

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Net paintings

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / The Restricted Section

In the Restricted section, you can see some of Kusama’s art in the form of documented performances, including a few on self-obliteration.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / The Restricted Section featuring Kusama's performance art

This is followed with pieces created as dialogue with the human body.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Soft sculptures overview

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / I Who Have Arrived in Heaven

a Manhattan Suicide Addict. A video installation where Kusama sings.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Love Forever series, intro

Love Forever (2004-2007). A series of 50 silkscreened canvases that were initially drawn by Kusama with black felt markers.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Love Forever series

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Love Forever series, close-ups

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / I Want to Love on the Festival Night

I Want to Love on the Festival Night. Surrounded by the Love Forever canvases, this mirror peepbox cycles through trippy light patterns, and unlike the other two mirror installations, there are multiple openings to share the love.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever, entrance

All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever. Three potted tulips set in a white room obliterated with colourful dots.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever, overview

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever, tulip closer

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / My Eternal Soul series overview

My Eternal Soul (2009-) series. Massive paintings reflect on Kusama’s connections with patterns, obsessions, and the infinite. She has painted more than 500 unique pieces already, and some of the ones exhibited here were shown for the very first time.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / My Eternal Soul series, close-up eyes

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Narcissus Garden, 1960s

The exhibition concludes with a mega installation, a new iteration of Narcissus Garden, which Kusama first staged at the 33rd Venice Biennale.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Narcissus Garden at City Hall Chamber, close-up

Narcissus Garden (2017). Installed at the City Hall Chamber are some 1,500 steel spheres, each precisely set (but not firmly held) with a plastic base.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Narcissus Garden at City Hall Chamber
“Nothing says narcissism more than marble columns..” – L

And that concludes our tour of Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow.

Exhibition Guide: Trip Report and other things

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Dots obsession 1

Exhibition Period: 9 June – 3 September 2017

Ticketing Info for Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow

While Singaporeans/PRs can enjoy free admission to National Gallery Singapore, this exhibition is a Special Exhibition which requires a separate ticket. On top of that, you need to select a timeslot to visit as time-entry admission is enforced at this exhibition.

Special Exhibition Ticket (Yayoi Kusama exhibition only)
Non-Singaporeans: $25/ $20*

Singaporean/PR should buy an all-access pass which includes admission to Yayoi Kusama exhibition

All Access Ticket (for all exhibitions at National Gallery)
Singaporean/PR: $15 / $10*
Non-Singaporeans: $30/ $25*

*Concession-holders: Children aged 7–12, Seniors aged 60 and above, Full-time National Servicemen excluding foreign personnel, Overseas students & teachers.
*Free Entry is offered to: Children aged 6 and below, Local & locally-based students, Local & locally-based teachers, Persons with Disabilities and one caregiver

Please visit the National Gallery website to buy tickets online.

FREE Admission during Open Houses

The museum will be having open houses on the following dates, where admission to all exhibitions would be free for all:

– Hari Raya Puasa (25–26 Jun 2017)
– Singapore National Day (9 Aug 2017)

Update: The YAYOI KUSAMA exhibition is not participating in the Open House. Normal admission charges apply.

Trip Report: Visitor Experience

Also known as “the things you won’t know until you’re there” section…

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Mad queues for Yayoi Kusama exhibition

This is the queue to buy tickets. Not sure if you’re impressed, shocked, or deciding whether you should even show up. Just be prepared for the madness, like Kusama’s past exhibitions overseas. The museum will enforce time-based admission, thus walk-ins may not be available and you might need to return at a later timeslot.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Mad queues for Yayoi Kusama exhibition 2

You can book your tickets online to reserve your timeslot, and visit the museum to collect your sticker.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Entrance

Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow is located at the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, Level 3 of the City Hall building. From the ticketing counters (Basement 1), take the escalators behind the ticketing area, then the escalator again up to Level 3. You will see the exhibition banner on the railings.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery

Follow the dots to the queue…

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Guide briefing 2

Minutes before the official opening of the exhibition: the Gallery staff are still being briefed in the open. Stuff like re-entry, where and when to check the tickets. How many visitors per gallery. The chatter goes on, and the exhibition’s opening was delayed, much to the frustration of those waiting in line.

Afterwards, we found out that the staff (probably because the deluge of varying instructions) did different things at the entry points that confused guests. Guess it will be ironed out in a few days?

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Secrets of the stickers

What’s the meaning behind the sticker colours, and the blue/black variants of the National Gallery sticker (not pictured)?

We asked the Gallery staff who told us curtly “You don’t need to know.”

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Gallery A Wait time notice

Long wait times are expected at installations and entrances to the galleries. That’s right. This is not the only one. The exhibition is split into three galleries, each with its separate queue line in case of crowds. While the Gallery staff advised that you could technically “start from any gallery”; another one told us later that all visitors must get their tickets checked from Gallery A (this place, with the red doors).

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Pumpkins installation queue

A typical queue for The Spirits of Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, also known as the Yellow Pumpkin Mirror Room.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Pumpkin doorway

This is not an installation that you can just walk in. And the work itself sets up for the big reveal within.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / The Spirits of Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, viewer entering the realm

Be careful about the window – don’t hold anything through it because if you drop something… losing your item should be the least of your worries because you may have damaged a very dear piece of art.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Another Gallery wait time advisory

The other installation that you’ll need to wait is the Gleaming Lights of the Souls.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / queue for installation

This Infinity Mirrored Room fully encloses visitors in within a box lined mirrors. There’s only a small platform to stand on, and you can bring up to 2 more friends with you inside.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Infinity Mirrored Room time limit of viewing time is 30 seconds with a maximum of 3 persons allowed inside

Once the door closes behind you, 30 valuable seconds is all you have to drift into the dream of lights. Your soul will not be lost because a few knocks on the door by the Gallery minder will whip you back into this plane of existence.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Gallery & Co. pop-up shop at Level 3 selling Yayoi Kusama souvenir items

If photos are not enough, bring home some official souvenirs from Gallery & Co. There is a pop-up shop between Galleries B and C. Initially, some enamel mugs and bowls with the iconic Pumpkin motif were available here, but a visitor literally swiped the whole lot before noon. So if there’s anything you want – better grab it fast, otherwise you’ll have to waitlist.

National Gallery Singapore - Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow / Cafe Menu Yayoi Special

Before you leave the building, check out the Yayoi Special Menu at the Gallery Cafe for a meal inspired by the exhibition.

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