Quirky, extraordinary, sensational and astonishingly lovable and celebrated artist of our time. Yayoi Kusama, the queen of all queens in arts and dare we say pop culture, fashion and her continuous legacy which will still be talked about decades from now.
Our feature of Kusama was inspired by a visit to the Singapore National Gallery back in 2017 an exhibition spanning 70 years of her artworks and the first in Asia (outside of her home country Japan). It was a phenomenal exhibition and we couldn't get enough of it.
Source: Yayoi Kusama
Born in 1929 to a well-to-do family in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama's parents had business in seeds cultivation, where her affinity with making pumpkin a theme about life and fertility. Art was taken away, her family wants her to be a good Japanese housewife, she kept looking for materials. Kusama survived the war and worked in a factory, despite the long hours and hardship, she continued to make art.
On her phobias that has affected her, these continue to be recurring themes in her life's work. Her confrontation with sex as a child when her mother sends her to spy on the infidelities of her father has caused violent aversion of sex throughout her life.
Source: Yayoi Kusama / Infinity Rooms
We are fascinated by her motifs and exploration of colors (and yes there are pieces with monotones), form, shapes and space. Beyond just being an artist, Kusama is also a poet, a visual performer and has design spectacular installations of infinity rooms that transforms our experiences at the art exhibition and makes us desire for much more intriguing experiences which we know only, probably Kusama can bring and no one else could.
Kusama sewed dollar bills into her kimono and set off across the Pacific determined to conquer the art world
Source: Harrie Verstappen
Kusama is a great admirer of Georgia O’Keefe, although knowing only very little English, she wrote to her for advice “I’m only on the first step of the long difficult life of being a painter. Will you kindly show me the way?” she asked.
O’Keefe wrote back and advised Kusama to come to the US and show her work to anyone who might be interested, even if it was to warn her that “In this country an artist has a hard time making a living.”
Her move to the USA feels like a huge liberation for Kusama to explore excessively, obsessively in everything she sets her mind to , including a string of outdoor and visual performances and huge production of artworks and the now famous Infinity Net series.
Source: Yayoi Kusama images
Source: Yayoi Kusama images
Kusama has lived in a mental hospital (by choice) since 1977. When she returned to Japan in 1973, Kusama suffered a mental breakdown. She checked herself in 1977 into Seiwa Hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo, where she has been living ever since. Her art studio is within walking distance.
Source : Yayoi Kusama
A fitting excerpt from TATE UK's article
"Kusama’s achievement as a woman artist, coming as she did from a traditional background in a conservative part of Japan in the early part of the twentieth century, cannot be underestimated. It was her own unwavering drive and confidence in her talent that enabled her to forge her extraordinary career from such humble beginnings."