19. My new found obsession: Yayoi Kusama.
I have always been fascinated with artists. From people who create on the easel, to those who create for the runway. Louis Vuitton’s recent contribution to the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Tate Modern Gallery, London, sparked my interest in this endlessly fascinating artist. If you have been following this blog, you’d have realised that my interest in art and it’s derivation in the form of fashion stems from my fascination with people. It is quite incredible to me how individuals shape and form their lives that is sometimes so closely placed around the individual they were as children/how their family shaped them, to how immensely distinct their personalities as adults turn out to be from when they were younger. I remember having read an article on the worldwide web regarding Ms. Kusama’s “connection” with the famed “dot” visual from since her childhood when her mother would have her spy on her father and his philandering.
I am intrigued by her story, and the Infinity Net paintings – which are the trademark pieces of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns, that shaped her career in avant garde art in New York, in the late 1950’s. There dots aren’t just what she has created, but what she wants us to see her life’s work as. The proliferating circular motif. This conversely is the negative space seen when the looped mark is applied to a space has become her trademark; to say the least. It has spilled onto her installations, canvases and touched almost everything she has created, extending (sometimes) to the artist’s body, and the clothing created by her.
The Passing Winter, 2005
A picture of Ms. Kusama’s mother, 1939.
As her self described obsession with sex, and food, shaped this intensely overwhelming desire to share her works in dots and sometimes, the phallic outline; her genius clearly stems from the hallucinatory workings of her mind. Her work has been definitive of a lot of expressions from surrealism, feminist art, to abstract expressionism, to simply put – the cathartic freedom of creation.
In 1977, Ms. Kusama moved back to Tokyo and found the art scene to be a lot more constricted than in New York. She has been working from her studio in Tokyo since then. She lives in a psychiatric institution voluntarily and travels to her studio everyday.
Having lived in the centre of the art revolution of the 1960’s in New York, and having worked alongside Andy Warhol, and Claes Oldenburg; her work offers many contexts. In that period she experimented with the Naked Happening Orgy and Flag Burning which took part in 1968. She sold polka dotted garments with perforations that were used during her performances at the time, and she created the paper Orgy which featured sexually explicit images of the Orgy happenings.
From the sense of displacement felt by a Japanese woman in 1960’s America, to someone looking for a cathartic outlet for her need for expression; Yayoi Kusama’s is one story that must be shared. It is almost like a melancholic soliloquy of an individual who can’t help but create, share, and invite one into her world of the seemingly neurotic and obsessive. Her need to escape her psychological trauma through her vision of the endless dot in the infiniteness offered by the mirrored space is her plot, and her narrative. And they are incredibly beautiful and transcendental, for some of the most relevant creations in the world, have arisen from the pain of conflict of the self.
Are you excited about the Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama collection? It’s available from July 11,’12, and I, personally, just hope that her work doesn’t lose itself in the big bad world of ‘the brand name’. The campaign doesn’t rob one of all of it, so I’ll wait.