Pumpkins & the 'Polka Dot Princess'

Yayoi Kusama's perfectly plump, bronze pumpkins – small, medium and large – currently sit in the Autumn sun of the Victoria Miro garden. The legendary Japanese artist has drawn pumpkins since childhood back when her mother – hating to see her paint, preferring instead, to see her marry a wealthy man – would throw her work away. Kusama describes the pumpkin as a form of self-portraiture, a motif that features throughout her many decades of work. Named the 'polka dot princess' by the press, Kusama has said, "My art originates from hallucinations only I can see" – Kusama has suffered from hallucinatory visions since the age of ten. Now at 85 years old, Yayoi Kusama is as prolific as ever, and shows no signs of slowing down.


In 2012, Kusama illustrated Lewis Carroll's Alice's adventures in Wonderland – an ideal surrealist pairing for a day-dreaming girl's escapades down a rabbit hole. Kusama sees herself as 'the modern Alice in Wonderland', alternatively, she could just as well be the caterpillar perched on a mushroom puffing on a hookah, creating smokey spots, and remarking "one side will make you grow taller and the other side will make you grow shorter". Pumpkins, in all manner of shapes and sizes, feature prominently throughout Kusama's depictions of Alice and her exploits.

The glorious pumpkin; a maker of fine soups, a term of endearment, October's ubiquitous Jack O' Lantern, a fairytale shape-shifting mode of transport on loan until 12am on the dot (pun intended), and now, stunningly immortalised in bronze and emblazoned with polka dots. A most prolific and versatile fruit indeed.

Kusama Alice cover