Kusama's exhibition draws record crowd

Kusama is among the most influential artists today. Her signature use of dots stems from the chronic hallucinations she experiences due to her battle with mental illness.
Kusama is among the most influential artists today. Her signature use of dots stems from the chronic hallucinations she experiences due to her battle with mental illness.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Japanese avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama's blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery Singapore has set a new record for visitorship at the museum, drawing more than 235,000 people over three months.

Yayoi Kusama: Life Is The Heart Of A Rainbow closed on Sunday after a successful run, where visitors formed long queues to see the 88-year-old's works and posted furiously about them on social media.

It outpaced notable local art exhibitions such as Chinese master Wu Guanzhong's Donation Collection, which drew close to 220,000 visitors to the Singapore Art Museum in 2009. Other exhibitions that proved crowd magnets include the ArtScience Museum's Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which drew more than 286,000 visitors in 2012.

On the last three days of the Kusama exhibition, the gallery, opened in 2015, extended its operating hours to take in the crowds.

Gallery director Eugene Tan said: "We are encouraged to see the overwhelming response to this exhibition. It is an important mission of the gallery to make the arts more accessible, to engage new audiences through art and to further the understanding of art among our public.

"Through this exhibition, we hope that audiences in Singapore and South-east Asia have gained a new appreciation of an artist whose works transcend geographical boundaries and generations."

Open since June 9, the exhibition was Kusama's first major museum show in South-east Asia, showcasing more than 120 artworks from the 1950s until the present in 2,000 sq m of gallery space.

It featured some of Kusama's signature works, including her dotted pumpkins, infinity nets and mirrored rooms, and was also the first exhibition in the world to display some new soft sculptures and paintings from her My Eternal Soul Series out of her studio in Tokyo.

Entry to the exhibition cost $15 for Singaporeans and permanent residents, and $25 for non-Singaporeans. The exhibition, a collaboration between National Gallery Singapore and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (Qagoma), will travel to Qagoma in Brisbane in November.

Kusama is among the most influential artists today. Her signature use of dots stems from the chronic hallucinations she experiences due to her battle with mental illness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Kusama's exhibition draws record crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe