Yayoi Kusama: The Avant-Garde Artist of The Millennium

George Clooney by Emma Summerton wearing a Yayoi Kusama’s creation.

By Mariam Bulin-Diarra & Kiché Rubalcava

Hailed by Forbes Magazine, “Record Year for World’s Most Expensive Living Female Artist,” after a phenomenal auction at Christie’s, meet Yayoi Kusama.

With iconic fuchsia hair and polka dot attire, this Japanese woman is an artist for which the world queues up, from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, to the Guggenheim Museum, New York, for what end you may ask, a transcendent experience inside her Infinity Mirror rooms.

Yaya Kusama in her studio

Picasso marks a before and after. Yet there is no disputing that similarly, Kusama is also an artist for the ages. There is Kusama, the painter; Kusama the minimalist; Kusama the pop artist; Kusama the brut art creator; Kusama the sculptor; Kusama the poet; Kusama the performance artist; Kusama the novelist; Kusama the film-maker; Kusama, the fashion designer and more. Her art made the long run; it spans seven decades.Throughout her life, she’s experienced hallucinations; repetitive fields of polka dots mostly. To cope, she created polka dot artwork. She calls her work “art medicine.” Kusama’s art is immediate. She creates a universe of art and takes you on a journey to experience forms of infinity: love, the cosmos or death. Yes, her art plays well on the social media where selfies inside glittering infinity rooms render instagrammable moments. By merely snapping a selfie against the numerosity of sculptured pumpkins or repeated nets of light, you can capture an authentic art experience. That being said, there’s may be more of Kusama’s art to discover. As an example, look for her work on canvas.

Her art is undoubtedly conceptual and visceral, but there’s an unmistakable mystical quality. In an interview with Bomb, Kusama states, “My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings.All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease.“ With mirrored rooms and multiplying a single object, Kusama creates the sensation of infinite space. An avant-garde artist’s ideas have more social power when expressed on canvas, marble or, in this case, mirrored rooms. Kusama’s central idea is “by obliterating one’s self; one returns to the infinite universe.” She uses light to intensify the effect—placing you in a scintillating space of stars. The summation of these effects creates a sensation of transcending the ordinary. Is there a more appealing journey for humanity in these times? Her art offers a way out. In the end, you return to the beginning and gain consciousness of an infinite universe, where it all began.

Now, her art is coming home. Just five months ago, she opened her own museum, Yoyoi’ Kusuma museum in Tokyo. Located in Shinjuku, a residential neighborhood, it is quite close, in fact, to Ms. Kusama’s studio. It is also close to the psychiatric hospital where she has lived by her own choice since 1977. For an exquisite art experience, only 50 visitors are admitted at a time for one of four 90 minute slots per day. Tickets are not available at the door; all tickets must be purchased in advance online on the museum’s website. April and May’s exhibition are already sold out, but visitors can still find tickets at resellers such as TourMega.com.

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