Photo/IllutrationYayoi Kusama ((c) Yayoi Kusama)

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MATSUMOTO, Nagano Prefecture--Internationally renowned artist Yayoi Kusama is being celebrated in her hometown with a major exhibition billed as the largest collection of her work ever to be gathered in one place.

“Yayoi Kusama: All about My Love,” the huge event under way at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, features 180 works by the 89-year-old avant-garde artist who continues to create new works at her studio in Tokyo.

The exhibition offers visitors the chance to become fully immersed in Kusama’s unique world view and gain an understanding of her life.

All parts of the museum, including not only exhibition rooms but the lobby and garden, are currently adorned with various Kusama artworks. The outer walls of the building are decorated with polka dots, one of the artist’s trademark styles. The dotted pattern is even on restroom mirrors.

Visitors are greeted by a “Yayoi-chan” balloon doll modeled after Kusama and a “Tokoton” balloon shaped like a dog beside a stairway to an exhibition room.

The first section of the exhibition includes a chandelier and many other objects with the polka dot design, while the section’s walls are covered with mirrors reflecting the dotted pattern to infinite effect.

“It is sometimes difficult to understand artworks by Kusama based on common sense alone,” said Akira Shibutami, a curator at the museum. “Because of that, we decided to have visitors come into contact with her surprising expressions first of all so they can deepen their understanding of her creations.”

The next section goes back to Kusama’s beginnings, starting with a painting she drew when she was around 5. While a mountain, a home and people are depicted in the work, the entire picture is covered with many dots that apparently represent snow particles.

Surrealistic works created in Matsumoto when she was young, as well as pieces made in Kyoto, where Kusama once studied art, are on display as well.

Also on show are representative works produced in the United States, where Kusama lived for 16 years from 1957. They include her Infinity-Net-style painting featuring a white mesh pattern and a cubic object covered in studs, which were made based on hallucinations she had long suffered from.

The exhibition also shows creations Kusama made after returning to Japan, such as “Pink Dots,” a work measuring more than 10 meters wide and known as her largest surviving painting, and a large Infinity Net painting never previously displayed.

Moving to the next floor, visitors will encounter an exhibition room whose walls are covered with 68 artworks from a series Kusama started in 2009 under the umbrella title of “My Eternal Soul.”

While some of them had not been exhibited previously, “Rakuhaku no Funbo: Soshite Watashi no Kokoro no Mazushisadakega Zenshin o Shihaishiteirunoda” (A tomb of ruin: And my spiritual poverty dominates the whole body), adopted as the design for the special “iwaimaku” curtain at Tokyo's famed Kabukiza theater, as well as many other works are enjoying their first Japanese showing.

Those recent works feature mesh patterns, a face-like design and amoeba-like objects alongside the omnipresent polka dots. Although surrealistic elements can also be found in those works, such varied patterns combine through vivid coloring to create a new form of artistic expression.

Shibutami said such relatively new productions show Kusama is “an active artist.”

At the exhibition, seven “self-portraits,” in addition to “Yayoi-chan,” are on show. While most of them apparently do not depict faces, even a ceramic piece is included.

Many other works have the words “self,” “I” and “my” in their titles as well, because most of Kusama’s creations depict her own states of mind. Kusama has said she “transformed my life with the power of art,” indicating all her works are a kind of self-portrait.

The special exhibition will continue through July 22, while the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding Mondays. It is open until 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and will be closed on April 30, May 7 and July 16.

Admission is 1,200 yen ($11.25) for adults and 800 yen for university and senior high school students.