In the week that Tate Modern is to open the Switch House, increase it's exhibition space by more than 60%, give London the most incredible public building built in a decade and expand even the most worldly of art minds, it seems unfair to blame it for something but point the finger I will. The hugely popular Yayoi Kusama retrospective held in 2012 introduced a hungry public to the weird, wired, spotty world of this Japanese colossus. Most memorably it also brought the Infinity Rooms to the consciousness of casual Bankside day trippers.
Victoria Miro's Wharf Road spaces are now home to three new Infinity Rooms with a thousand visitors a day queuing, all coerced and briefed by inexplicably patient gallery hands. They do not have an easy job. In fact on Saturdays their job is twice as hard with up to two thousand people snaking around the constructions and out of the gallery, down the street, waiting to spend a stopwatch-timed sixty seconds in each of the three spaces.
This is art as a fair ground experience. Unlike a house of mirrors there is little time to explore each reflective space, merely enough time to take an already familiar duplicate image for Instagram. The brightest space is 16m square, almost three metres high and save for a narrow path from door to far wall, is filled with LED lit black-spotted yellow pumpkins. The motif Kusama has incorporated for decades in her work as a symbol for mankind and life itself.
No sooner as you become accustomed to the dark and the illuminated vegetables and the patterns made by the mirrored walls and ceiling, the door is opened and you are ushered out. It is not even a solitary experience, to speed up the queue two people are sent in as a pair. Once the room is exited there seems an almost involuntary need to get whatever photos have been taken up on social media.
From one queue to another. After the pumpkins comes the chandelier. This space is hexagonal and creates a more varied mirrored infinity but the fault still lies in the brevity of your experience within it. It is simply too popular and too small to accommodate the hoards that are making their pilgrimage there. Though I have not seen the paintings in the Mayfair branch I imagine they are as popular as the canvases here, above the Parasol Unit and a staircase too far for most of the Instagrammers.
The paintings are generally called variations on INFINITY-NETS and work largely on the basis of leaving holes through thickly applied paint to reveal the brighter colour painted beneath it. They are simple but imposing, over two and a half metres square in a few cases and they reveal washes and waves, patterns and swirls not unlike the murmuring of starlings of the lapping of a calm sea. The very fact you are able to view the pieces alone, or with space, without the incessant small screens of everyone's phone makes the experience and connection far better.
Arguably the best work here will be familiar to anyone who knows the gallery - the permanent installation in the garden (Narcissus Garden, 1966-) of eight hundred plus steel spheres covers half the pond and looks glorious, like space-aged giant frogspawn in the sunshine. It is joined for this show by the most successful of the three Infinity Rooms on the decking; Where the Lights in My Heart Go, 2016 is a cubed room with the mirrors on the outside. Not only does this reflect the beautiful garden at the rear of the galleries but on the inside it is lit merely with small holes looking out of the box to the sky or garden. Sharing the room with three others instead of a single stranger makes for a greater dynamic within the space. It makes for a terrible photo, and there in lies its beauty - it is an experience to be present at, not one to record.
http://www.victoria-miro.com/exhibitions/491/ until July 30th