This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Pumpkin [TOWSSO]

Pumpkin [TOWSSO]
signed, titled and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 2006 PUMPKIN TOWSSO' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
8 3⁄4 x 10 3⁄4in. (22.3 x 27.4cm.)
Painted in 2006
Galleria Col, Osaka.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 2007.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Post lot text
This work is accompanied by a registration card issued by Yayoi Kusama Inc.

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Lot Essay

Over the course of her long and varied career, the pumpkin has endured as a central motif for Yayoi Kusama. She has sculpted, painted, and printed these fruits, and in the present work, the fleshy gourd is dappled with black polka-dots which trace the pumpkin’s protrusions. Behind the titular pumpkin, a spidery net threads across the dark ground. Rendered in Kusama’s iconic yellow and black, Pumpkin (2006) suggests an optical play as its rhythmic patterns pulse brightly, producing a sense of three dimensionality within the flat picture plane.

For Kusama, the pumpkin is both an object of nostalgia and a captivating form. This fascination dates to her childhood when she visited a plant nursery with her grandmother. There she became enchanted by a pumpkin the size of a man’s head. Kusama was drawn to the fruit’s ‘generous unpretentiousness’ and ‘solid spiritual balance’; she would later go onto win a prize in a local art competition for her painting of pumpkins (Y. Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, p. 75). Despite her early interest, she would later abandon the motif for nearly three decades. It wasn’t until Kusama moved back to Japan from New York that she returned to the pumpkin, replicating the image in paint and sculpture, and giving each a distinctive personality. She created her first Mirror Room (Pumpkin) in 1991 for the Fuji Television Gallery and Hara Museum in Tokyo; the installation was later selected to represent Japan at the 1993 Venice Biennale. This past year, Kusama had solo presentations at  the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Museum of Sydney, Australia; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Tate Modern, London, among many others.

Elements in much of Kusama’s oeuvre can be traced to moments in her childhood. Polka-dots are likewise an important theme, evoking the hallucinations she has suffered from since she was little. Beyond serving as an iconic motif, the dots represent a wellspring of energy and inspiration to the artist. She considers them to be the source of all creativity. As she has explained, ‘Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others … We must forget ourselves with polka dots. We must lose ourselves in the ever-advancing stream of eternity’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in L. Hoptman et al., Yayoi Kusama, London 2001, p. 103). In Pumpkin, she joins together her foundational obsessions, and the work embodies Kusama’s ability to channel her visions into wondrous forms. 

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