Kusama at HAM

HAM, like Helsinki Art Museum. Sorry, we’re not going to talk about food 😉

…or maybe we are?

Tennispalatsi hosted a retrospective exhibition on Yayoi Kusama, “one of the most famous artists in the world”, though I had never heard about her. We visited the museum on New Year’s Eve (after Finlandia-talo), as it was free during the evening. Before going upstairs. to the bigger hall, we got introdued to Kusama’s life by a slideshow presenting the most important events of her life.

The artist’s biography revealed a tortured soul and a self-aware personality that led Kusama to experiment with hallucinations and settle on her own will at an asylum in Japan, where she still resides.


After that, the exhibition’s top floor gave a better view of Kusama’s large scale works in which mirrors send hundreds of reflections back at you, along with phalluses or pumpkins, some of the artist’s obsessions.

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Pumpkins. I guess we’re actually talking about food. I loved those big, round metallic sculptures. Photography-wise, the textures were fascinating, as was the light’s reflection. Definitely food (ahah) for thought there. Which version do you prefer, color or black & white?

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Kusama tried fashion and design, painting and drawing, and mocked items such as bank notes. However, what struck me the most was color, ever present. You know it, I love colors, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed walking around there, meandering among giant vegetables and colorful clothes.


My favourite work was the dark room with dotted balloons lit from the inside.


They constantly changed colors while reflecting on the mirrors on the wall, or the water on the ground. A dry path was reserved for visitors, in the middle of the room, and in the dark, one had to be cautious not to miss it, especially since it was easy to lose focus and be mesmerized by the spheres.

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Last but not least, the Obliteration Room was a must-see – and a must-do. Originally completely white, this “normal” room, with furniture against the walls, cutlery set on the table and books sitting on the shelves, invites you to stick colorful discs all over the place.


Everyone could take part in it, and everyone did, not matter their age.



We visited the other exhibitions as well, and this scene caught my attention. Since Unterlinden Museum, I’ve liked to take photos in museums. I am often captivated by the ballet of visitors, and by how they react to works of art. There, however, was noone. These paintings from the museum’s collections did not attract as much attention as Kusama’s work, and it felt as if they were waiting for someone. The bench enhances this feeling, inviting the viewer to sit and watch. Finally, the light, directed at the wall and leaving the rest of the room in the dark, added a sense of intimacy, as if there was nothing in the world more important than these paintings and the visitor.


3 thoughts on “Kusama at HAM

  1. I try to check out as many exhibitions as I can, I’m often enjoying a show at our local art gallery or a small showing at our community centre, if they are free, all the better! Thank you for sharing your very cool photos from such an exciting artist (I loved seeing the colour shots of the pumpkin sculptures!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Kimberlee, I’m glad you liked the article 🙂
      I also feel drawn more and more to exhibitions of all kinds.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just read in our local free entertainment newspaper that our art gallery will be hosting a Monet exhibition this summer, I’m definitely going to attend! So glad to see other exhibits through your posts…

      Liked by 1 person

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