Media only: Barbara Kram: 202.633.0520
Brenda Kean Tabor: 202.633.0523
August 30 marks the beginning of a five-year program of contemporary installationscollectively titled "Perspectives"to be mounted in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's newly remodeled entrance pavilion. This series of exhibitions focuses on the work of leading contemporary artists from Asia and the Asian Diaspora and bridges the gap between the traditional, often separate roles played by Asian art museums and modern art galleries.
The works on view underscore the dynamic facets of Asian art and culture that are unfamiliar to the casual visitor, who will be enticed to linger in the pavilion's new seating and view exhibition information on recently-installed plasma screens.
"We are excited about inaugurating this new pavilion design by presenting the work of contemporary Asian artists whose global experience and use of new media expand the traditional vocabulary," says Julian Raby, director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
"Perspectives" debuts with two installation pieces by the world-class Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b.1929). A pioneer of installation and performance art with an intensely personal vision, Kusama represented Japan in the Venice Biennale of 1993 and major retrospectives of her work have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art among other places.
Ranging from minimalist works to surrealist installations featuring upholstered fetishistic objects, and occasionally including pop art and controversial happenings, Kusama's work defies neat labeling. Her focus on repetitionthe public expression of a lifetime of hysterically obsessive hallucinationswill be highlighted at the Sackler in her "Dots Obsession, 2002," a buoyant installation composed of six giant white balloons that are covered with the artist's signature red polka dots, which themselves appear to proliferate as they spill over onto the walls. The balloons hover playfully from the lofty Pavilion ceiling above a second work titled "Infinity Mirrored Room Love Forever, 1996," a hexagonal, mirrored box with an opening into a kaleidoscopic vision of balls and light. Kusama's installation creates a powerful visual experience by dissolving the Pavilion's surface into pattern and drawing the viewer into her seductive yet unsettling world.
The inauguration of the Sackler's contemporary art series coincides with the redesign of the gallery's entrance space. The new entryway into the national museum of Asian art will offer visitors a comfortable and contemporary space to learn more about the museum's exhibitions and collections as they begin their visit to the galleries.
The Freer Gallery of Art (12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States. The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and admission is free. Public tours are offered daily. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call 202.357.2700 or TTY 202.357.1729, or visit the special, exhibition-related section of the galleries' web site www.asia.si.edu.