What are the critics saying about Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms?

The much-hyped Tate Modern exhibition has been described as ‘endlessly entrancing’ as well as ‘disquieting’

Infinity Mirrored Room
Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life, 2011
(Image credit: Tate Modern)

After months stuck at home, you might be unwilling to pay £10 in order to enter “yet another confined space”, said Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. Believe me, though: the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, two of which are now on show at Tate Modern, are more than worth it.

Kusama, 92, has become a social media sensation for creating a number of these “tiny chambers”, illuminated by minuscule lights and lined with mirrors, which reflect each other in an infinite number of configurations. Walking into one of those on show here is like entering a “hallucinatory palace of light”; you find yourself “drifting through a star-spangled infinitude”, hypnotised by “prismatic glints”. The experience is “beautiful” but “disquieting”.

Kusama, who has been affected by hallucinations for much of her life, makes art that tries to show things “only the mind can see”, said Adrian Searle in The Guardian. Much of it has been fascinating; not these, though. The Tate allows you only two-minute dives into these rooms for your tenner. “Time enough for a selfie”, and not much more: it’s an Instagram experience posing as art. The Infinity Mirror Rooms aren’t even all that spectacular: the second, larger one, features lights glowing, dimming and gradually changing colour. “My cheapo garden fairy lights do that too.” It’s certainly not a “transformative” or “mystical” experience.

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There may be little here beyond some “coloured lights and a few mirrors”, said Nancy Durrant in the London Evening Standard. But it’s amazing – “I mean really amazing” – what Kusama has done with them. The “strange landscape of light” she creates is “endlessly entrancing”, a genuine visual tour de force. If you want to experience it, “for god’s sake book” – all slots have already been snapped up until October.

Tate Modern, London SE1 (tate.org.uk). Until 12 June 2022.

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