Asia Europe Thoughts

Yayoi Kusama in Jakarta and London

February 5, 2019

Who doesn’t find a bright yellow pumpkin with black dots interesting or at least quirky and caught the attention? Well at least I do.

I think the first time I ever saw work by Yayoi Kusama was on the internet. I found her work interesting. I started to read a bit about her, and research some of the stories behind the artwork that she had created, and her career. I wasn’t surprised as I researched her that so many people were attracted to her work. Plus she is one of the most hyper-productive artists in the world, which probably helps if you want to create things that grab the interest of people.

Obliteration Room in Museum Macan, Jakarta


I was in South America when I saw several photos from the exhibition in Jakarta. The exhibition of Yayoi Kusama with titled: Life is The Heart of a Rainbow. I realised that I would be back in Jakarta in time to see the work so put the date in my diary. The Yayoi Kusama exhibition was held in Jakarta at Museum Macan for the period: 12 May – 9 September 2018. I decided to go on 7th August 2018. You had to pick a time slot. I chose 12:00-14:00. It was Rp 100,000 per person.

I asked Mumun to accompany me to the exhibition. She was a fun companion. She is a blogger too btw, check her blog (together with Vira) here.

The exhibition in Jakarta was grand. The highlight for me was the Obliteration Room where visitors were able to participate in the exhibition. We were given a set of colourful stickers in the shape of dots that we could stick anywhere we wanted in the room. It made the exhibition really interesting.

The other exhibition that I really enjoyed was the Spirit of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens. The section of paintings on My Eternal Soul was also pretty cool.

A lot of paintings in London


I was so impressed by the exhibition in Jakarta that I decided if I had the chance to visit another exhibition I would take it. Luckily for me there was an exhibition in London when I was visiting England. Nico hadn’t seen any of Yayoi’s exhibitions so I thought why not.

The exhibition title was, The Moving Moment When I Went to the Universe. It was held from 3 October – 21 December 2018. The exhibition in London was free, but you needed to prebook the tickets. Of course, the ticket ran out almost immediately.

We booked the tickets on 2 Oct 2018, by that time all weekends tickets are already sold out. We finally got the spot for 13 Dec 2018 at 1 pm. The exhibition was held at Victoria Miro.

The exhibition in London was not as good as the one in Jakarta (I’m sorry London!). The venue was a lot smaller for a start, so I guess that was a factor. The main reason that I was disappointed though was the lack of interactive exhibitions. In Jakarta there were a couple of rooms that you walked through, which were designed to be part of the exhibition (rather than just space were paintings and sculptures were placed).

The exhibition in London had only one room, which was the Infinity Mirrored Room. It was quite fun, but not as fun.

We didn’t get much time in this exhibition space. Both in London and Jakarta, we had a time limit to explore the interactive rooms. This could be as short as 30 seconds per group of visitors (usually around 2-3 people). We were also given information about the layout of the room so we wouldn’t accidentally damage the installation.

In London, besides the Infinity Mirrored Room (a room filled with glowing paper lanterns), which was located on the first floor, there were also several paintings, sculptures that looked like pumpkins, and some flower sculptures located on the ground floor. I really liked the placement of the flower sculptures. They were placed outdoors near a small pond.

The flower sculptures in London

My Thoughts on Yayoi Kusama’s exhibitions

In terms of reservation of the tickets, the crews at the museum, the facilities and the placement of the installations, both in London and Jakarta were nice. In terms of the flow of the visitors, I think it would be nicer if the Infinity Mirrored Room in London was placed at the end of the visit rather than the start. It set the “fun bar” too high for the next installations.

So that is pretty much my opinion about Yayoi Kusama’s exhibitions that I attended in Jakarta and in London (remember I’m an amateur art appreciator). The nice takeaway for me from having the chance to compare the exhibitions is how professional everything was at Museum Macan Jakarta. This made me so happy because this is another example that Jakarta actually has the same quality as London—in this case for holding an international art exhibition.

Hope Jakarta and Indonesia keep getting better and better!

PS: If you come to Jakarta, you should visit Museum Macan. Check the exhibition schedule on their website to see if anything interesting is happening. At the moment they have “Pameran Tiga Seniman Asia” until 10th March 2019. There is Arahmaiani with The Past Has Not Passed, Lee Mingwei with Seven Stories, and On Kawara with One Million Years (Reading).

Participated in the On Kawara’s installation: The reading of One Million Years

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