5 Artists to Follow if You Like Yayoi Kusama

Juliana Lopez
Sep 15, 2020 8:47PM

In this monthly series, Artsy’s Curatorial team features a group of five emerging and noteworthy artists who are working in a similar style or spirit as a well-known or established artist. This month, we focus on Yayoi Kusama. The famed Japanese artist, best known for her “Infinity Rooms” and polka-dotted pieces, has created poetic, groundbreaking work across installation, performance, sculpture, and painting for seven decades.

Barbara Takenaga

B. 1949, North Platte, Nebraska. Lives and works in New York and Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Barbara Takenaga
Small Red Up, 2019
Robischon Gallery

In her paintings, artist Barbara Takenaga evokes scenes that are simultaneously macro- and microcosmic. Her abstract compositions fluctuate between celestial and cellular, one moment appearing as constellations set against a vast night sky, and the next as particles swarming together under a microscope. Her elaborate and often repetitive patterns create moments of tension and release as they lead the viewer across the canvas.

Takenaga allows elements of chance to dictate the composition of the painting. She begins each work by pouring paint directly onto the canvas. From there, her process is highly technical and laborious, as she covers the surface of the work with intricate networks of line and shape.

Barbara Takenaga
Folds (bluegreen 3), 2019
DC Moore Gallery

Takenaga’s work has been likened to the expansiveness of the landscape and night sky in Nebraska, where she was born and raised. After receiving her BFA and MFA from the University of Boulder in Colorado, Takenaga went on to teach as a professor at Williams College in Massachusetts from 1985 until 2018. Her work has been widely exhibited at institutions including MASS MoCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the National Academy Museum in New York, and the International Print Center New York. This April, Takenaga was announced as the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Rachel Perry

B. 1962, Tokyo. Lives and works in Boston and New York.

Rachel Perry is a multimedia artist working across installation, performance, photography, video, and drawing. Often addressing topics of consumer culture and materialism, Perry is best recognized for her photographic series “Lost in my Life,” in which she documents herself camouflaged within scenes of carefully arranged detritus collected from everyday life, such as twist ties, receipts, and fruit stickers. “My interests lie in language and the formation of meaning, how we consume, sort, process and sift information, and in the small moments of the everyday,” explained Perry in a 2009 interview with Art21.

Visually, the elaborate installations depicted in Perry’s photographs are reminiscent of Kusama’s Obliteration Room (2002–present) at the end of an exhibition, with an abundance of colorful, uniform objects covering every surface within the frame. Like Kusama, Perry’s work is often categorized as existing between Minimalism and Pop art.

At the 2020 edition of The Armory Show in New York, works from “Lost in my Life” were shown by Perry’s representing gallery, Yancey Richardson. Her works are currently on view in a group exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and will be included in an upcoming show at the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York. Perry’s work is held in the collections of major institutions such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Timothy Hyunsoo Lee

B. 1990, Seoul. Lives and works in New York and Madrid.

Born in Seoul and raised primarily in Queens, New York, Timothy Hyunsoo Lee creates work that explores his identity as Korean-American and the cultural displacement he experienced during childhood. While studying neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University, art became an outlet for Lee to process his anxieties and childhood traumas. Although he ultimately decided to pursue studio art, his years of scientific training heavily influenced his artistic language. This is illustrated by the DNA-like forms present in Lee’s watercolors, which are composed of what he refers to as “cells.”

Lee has described his abstract paintings as “mind-maps”—visual representations of his emotional state while working on a given piece. He does not predetermine the composition of a work, but rather allows visceral tics and emotional compulsions to guide his painting. For a 2018 solo presentation at India Art Fair, he created a series of watercolors titled “In One Breath” (when translated from Korean). As the title suggests, Lee rendered each “cell” of these paintings in a single breath.

Most recently, Lee’s work was included in the group exhibition “Ver Versus Ver” at Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid. His work has been exhibited at prominent institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the National YoungArts Foundation Gallery in Miami, and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu

B. ca. 1945, Miwatj, Northern Territory, Australia. Lives and works in Yirrkala, Northern Territory, Australia.

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu comes from a long lineage of Yolngu artists. Her father, Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, was a legendary aboriginal artist and political leader, and her late sister, Gulumbu Yunupingu, was a renowned artist and leader. Nyapanyapa Yunupingu was encouraged to pursue art from a young age.

Yunupingu approaches painting as a means of storytelling. Her work is individualistic and autobiographical. Using both natural materials indigenous to her region and manmade materials like acetate, she creates figurative and abstract works that represent personal experiences. Recognized for her paintings on bark, Yunupingu treats the surface with red or black ocher, before intuitively overlaying intricate paintings with white ocher. This process results in a high-contrast image; the rich color of the bark reveals itself behind tightly rendered crosshatching and motifs.

“The moment eternal: Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu,” a solo exhibition of Yunupingu’s work, is currently on view at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Australia through October 25th. It is the first solo exhibition at the museum to feature an Aboriginal artist. Yunupingu has been selected twice for the Biennale of Sydney, in 2012 and 2016, and her work sits in the collections of esteemed institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the Museum of New Zealand.

Crystal Liu

B. 1980, Toronto. Lives and works in San Francisco.

Crystal Liu
the flowers, "down pour" (IV), 2019
Galerie du Monde

Crystal Liu creates psychological landscapes, using the natural world as a metaphor for her personal joys and suffering. She has created a lexicon of recurring symbols, each representing a specific emotion. When placed together, these symbols create narratives and represent the artist’s emotional state at the time of a work’s inception. In a recent series titled “The Fog,” Liu’s opalescent landscapes appear partially obscured by areas of opaque, grey fog, symbolizing passing feelings of uncertainty or gloom through which a more hopeful scene emerges.

Crystal Liu
the fog, ''nestled'', 2019
Galerie du Monde
Crystal Liu
the flowers , “taking it all in”, 2015
Galerie du Monde

Liu uses a variety of techniques and media to portray the natural elements in her work––such as marbling, watercolor, ink, and gold leaf––resulting in heavily textured and detailed compositions. After graduating from Ontario College of Art and Design with a BFA in 2003, Liu received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. Her work has been shown internationally at galleries such as Galerie du Monde in Hong Kong, Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York, and Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco.

Juliana Lopez