Yayoi Kusama (Kusama Yayoi, born 22 March 1929) is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. Her work is based in conceptual art and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. She has been acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan. Yayoi Kusama tells the story of how when she was a little girl she had a hallucination that freaked her out. She was in a field of flowers when they all started talking to her! The heads of flowers were like dots that went on as far as she could see, and she felt as if she was disappearing or as she calls it ‘self-obliterating’ – into this field of endless dots. This weird experience influenced most of her later work.
Kusama was raised in Matsumoto, and trained at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts in a traditional Japanese painting style called nihonga.Kusama was inspired, however, by American Abstract impressionism. She moved to New York City in 1958 and was a part of the New York avant-garde scene throughout the 1960s, especially in the pop-art movement.Embracing the rise of the hippie counterculture of the late 1960s, she came to public attention when she organized a series of happenings in which naked participants were painted with brightly colored polka dots.Since the 1970s, Kusama has continued to create art, most notably installations in various museums around the world.
Curator Mika Yoshitake has stated that Kusama's works on display are meant to immerse the whole person into Kusama's accumulations, obsessions, and repetitions. These infinite, repetitive works were originally meant to eliminate Kusama's intrusive thoughts, but she now shares it with the world.Claire Voon has described one of Kusama's mirror exhibits as being able to, "...transport you to quiet cosmos, to a lonely labyrinth of pulsing light, or to what could be the enveloping innards of a leviathan with the measles".
Creating these feelings amongst audiences was intentional. These experiences seem to be unique to her work because Kusama wanted others to sympathise with her in her troubled life.Bedatri D. Choudhury has described how Kusama's lack of feeling in control throughout her life made her, either consciously or subconsciously, want to control how others perceive time and space when entering her exhibits. This statement seems to imply that without her trauma, Kusama would not have created these works as well or perhaps not at all. Art had become a coping mechanism for Kusama.
This does not romanticize her struggles, but rather is an attempt to understand Kusama's position. Some psychological, scholarly authors have examined Kusama's art as her therapy. These authors defined art therapy as a method of therapy in which art is the method of therapy. These authors used Kusama as the contemporary epitome of mentally-ill individuals who used art as their intimate expression. These authors stated that her work was/is a direct product of her hallucinations. The act of creating what she saw was Kusama's method of trying to grasp and control what she saw in a life in which she did not much control. Kusama has also stated that art saved her from suicide.
Other research that had been analyzed by these authors had found that art therapy had and has a statistically-significant positive effect on patients with various mental disorders. No known sources have claimed that Kusama read about art therapy and experimented with it to see if it would help; sources seem to all be in agreement that her art flowed organically from her experiences with mental illness.
Yayoi Kusama tells the story of how when she was a little girl she had a hallucination that freaked her out. She was in a field of flowers when they all started talking to her! The heads of flowers were like dots that went on as far as she could see, and she felt as if she was disappearing or as she calls it ‘self-obliterating’ – into this field of endless dots. This weird experience influenced most of her later work.
By adding all-over marks and dots to her paintings, drawings, objects and clothes she feels as if she is making them (and herself) melt into, and become part of, the bigger universe. She said: ‘Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment’.