An event combining Yayoi Kusama and Shiseido makes real sense if you think about it. The two have a lot in common, and I’m not just talking about both of them hailing from Japan. I immediately associate the two with art.
Yayoi Kusama has been creating her own unique style of art since she was a teenager, experimenting with abstraction in Kyoto after learning a more traditional Japanese style of painting called Nihonga. “I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned.” -- Yayoi Kusama . Her career really took off upon moving to the US and befriending such art legends as Andy Warhol.
Shiseido has been creating the most perfect beauty concoctions for over 140 years. It all started with a 23 year old Arinobu Fukuhara being displeased with the medicine available at the pharmacy he worked in, he wanted to develop products that ‘took everything and anything good in the world and use it to create new things’. The name Shiseido itself is derived from a passage in I Ching, meaning Do, “house of Shi Sei”, ‘Where everything is born”. “We find beauty in science and art. We find beauty in the relationships we have, in the products we make and in how we engage with the world’
I think Yayoi and Shiseido have a sort of magical, meaningful whimsy associated with them. They didn’t feel genuine to themselves ‘going with the flow’ of what everyone else was doing and found their own path to follow. Both have been so wildly successful in doing so and taking that chance.
Throwing Dave Lackie into the mix was just the icing on the cake. Dave is definitely Toronto’s top beauty guru and has been singing Shiseido’s praises for a long time now. He gave his followers the chance of a lifetime to join him at the AGO for a private tour of the Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors event that had everyone in Toronto falling over themselves trying to get tickets to. Shiseido was sponsoring the event and we were able to learn a little more about their products after the exhibit.
I arrived with my friend, and fellow Dave follower, Shannon to the event that saw the main lobby of the AGO transformed into a chic cocktail lounge. Giant red polka dots floated above our heads as servers offered us the most delicious tea and pear cocktails. We mixed and mingled with the crowd while Dave periscoped the event live on Twitter for his followers and patrons snapped photos in front of a beautiful Shiseido backdrop, dressed to the nines, and many in polka dot.
Our group was called to be brought upstairs to view the exhibit and you could feel the excitement fill the room. “You’re one of the first few to be able to view the rooms!” the AGO guide told us as we got onto the elevator. I stepped up one of the small white boxes that I was told contained infinity. Workers told us to leave our bags in cubby holes and that we had exactly 30 seconds in each room.
Shannon and I stepped onto the small viewing platform, the door was quietly closed behind us and the room lit up and into life. We both tried to take it in as much as we could. Small plant like (or maybe even yam like) white and red polka dot shrubs rested at our feet and went on forever. The bright white of the room was almost overwhelming and it really felt like we had been transported somewhere magical. It felt like we had only been in the room for a few seconds before we heard a knock on the door, giving us a 10 second warning to get our last photo’s in before we had to leave.
There were five other rooms like this, each like entering a new world. One filled with lanterns, the other was like floating in outer space. Some had a feeling of fun and cheekiness to them like the room filled with glowing pumpkins (my personal favourite, but no photos allowed in this room) and giant pink balls with black polka dots on them.
I found being in each room very peaceful, it was almost like a warm hug. I haven’t had that childlike wonder response to something in a long time. After the event, back in the lobby, Dave had even mentioned the rooms making him a little emotional, and I could very much relate. I didn’t think I would be as touched by the exhibit as I was and made my love for the arts grow even more.
The Infinity Mirrors exhibit is so much more than just the rooms. Yayoi Kusama’s artwork hung in giant white rooms, bright colours and hundreds of tiny polka dots splattered across each canvas. Unreal and almost Tim Burton-eqsue statues stood in the corners, some with sharp edges and others with long tentacle like arms, reaching up to the ceiling. Black and white photos of the artist from different times in her life decorated small, quiet rooms. I stared into them, trying to imagine what was going on her in mind behind her stares, or as she stood with a paintbrush in her hand, painting polka dots on a naked man.
The end of the exhibit featured a room that looked like a normal Toronto apartment (OK, maybe a bit bigger than a normal Toronto apartment). There was a dining room, pet bowls; office area and even a little outdoors area complete with fire pit and Muskoka chairs.
The only thing not ‘normal’ about the room was that everything was painted white. You were given a piece of paper with colourful polka dots on them upon entering and were told to add them anywhere you would like. It was a fun immersive art piece and liked the idea that each room would be unlike the other before when the exhibit travelled from city to city. It was also a really great way to end off the night.
After adding some carefully placed polka dots, Shannon and I headed back down the elevator and back into reality, joining the other girls back at the cocktail lounge. We shared our experiences and different feelings towards the art and rooms over some champagne (Dave sure does know how to treat a lady).
The lounge had a few display’s featuring Shiseido’s Essential Energy Moisturizing Gel Cream which we were told counteracts dullness and dryness that comes along with the winter season and helps minimize the appearance of fine lines. The gel cream uses ReNeura technology that reawakens the skin’s sensors, almost like a ‘reboot’ to make skin more responsive to your daily skincare regimen.
The jars themselves come in 64 different shapes and were inspired by a type of pottery commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies called Raku. No one but Shiseido could come up with this unique idea!
Combining art and beauty made for the perfect night and I was so thrilled to be invited by Dave. If you aren’t following him already, what are you waiting for?! He’s @DaveLackie on all social media platforms, has an amazing newsletter for all things beauty delivered to your inbox every Wednesday and frequently updated website with all the current beauty trends (www.davelackie.com) .Get ready to become part of a beautiful online community, I have been able to meet and talk with so many amazing people and new friends since following Dave, its really incredible if you think about it.
If you’re hoping to snag tickets to the Infinity Mirrors exhibit the next opportunity to buy tickets is on March 27 at 10am, see AGO.ca for more information. It’s on until May 27th and I wish you good luck! It really is the experience of a lifetime and I was so glad I got to see it.
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.