signed and dated ‘yayoi kusama 1989’, titled in Japanese (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
46 x 38 cm. (18 1/8 x 15 in.)
Painted in 1989
Private Collection, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1990s
This work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist’s studio.

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Ada Tsui (徐文君)
Ada Tsui (徐文君)

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Lot Essay

“I love pumpkins because of their humorous form, warm feeling, and a human-like quality and form.” - Yayoi Kusama

Pumpkin is a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours, dots and nets. Painted in 1989, the painting is a rare example of the artist's early exploration of the subject's form, size and character with a seemingly limitless colour palette. From Egyptian blue to bright yellow; darkgreen to pumpkin orange, Kusama creates a feast for the eyes with her extraordinary display of contrasting colours. Unlike the monochromatic pumpkins of Kusama's later oeuvre, this early work is one of a kind. The painting has been in the same collection for almost 30 years and will be presented for the first time in the market. It will also be the second time a double-pumpkin painting has graced the auction market, making it an incredibly momentous occasion.

Kusama' s obsession with pumpkins dates back to her childhood, where she often visited plant nurseries with her grandfather. It was during this time that Kusama felt she could identify with these humous proliferating forms. As a young girl, Kusama began experiencing hallucinations in the form of animated conversations with the pumpkins and only through drawing their bulbous forms was she able to confront such illusions. For a while it seemed Kusama had forgotten about her favourite pumpkin during her time in New York, where was working on her infinity net paintings. However, by the early-1970s, upon returning to Tokyo from New York, Kusama underwent an intense period of depression, where only through painting pumpkins did the artist find solace. Mesmerized by the "unpretentious and simple beauty" of these organic forms,Kusama re-emerged onto the art scene inthe early-1980s with her confidence and ambition restored. As a result, Pumpkin, a work executed in 1989, signals this poignant moment.

What began as a young child's creative, yet uncertain grip on reality, became a central motif to Kusama's endless search for self identity. The artist once said "I had dark daysand unfortunate times, but I overcame them with the power of art." She embraced her phantom and pushed the boundaries of her psyche. Now, the cute, rotund, and polka dotted pumpkin has become an international sensation and a unique personal trademark of Yayoi Kusama.

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