The Story of Famous Artist Yayoi Kusama: Turning Trauma into Triumph

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who is famous for her polka dot patterned works. She uses painting, sculpture, performance art, and installation media in various styles. Kusama’s distinctive style in representing her art is contemporary, pop, and minimalist.

Yayoi was born in 1929. Since she was a child, she was determined to pursue her love of drawing and painting. When she began to express enthusiasm in making art, her parents were not wholly supportive. Her mother, who discouraged her dreams, tore up some of the paintings that she made. Even so, she made more drawings after. When Yayoi was unable to buy art supplies, she created artwork using mud and sacks that she found around her house. Eventually, Yayoi persuaded her parents to let her go to art school and study painting.

Source: Time Magazine

Kusama’s journey begins when she first starts experiencing hallucinations as a child. She used painting as a coping mechanism for the unusual events. She claims that creating art became a way to express her mental illness, which is most clearly demonstrated by her works in sophisticated ways that are covered in polka dots or small points of light. Similar to how she uses art to handle hallucinations, Kusama also uses it to fight phobias that she has, particularly a phobia of sex that she developed after seeing her father’s womanizing. This is made clear by her “compulsion” to create soft sculpture and furniture wrapped in various phallic spaces.

Source: Queensland Art Gallery
Source: The Washington Post

For Kusama, creating art evolved into an important coping mechanism. It became the only thing that allowed her to successfully adapt into society, since it was her only way of making sense of the world where she lives in. As she said,

“Forget yourself. Become one with eternity. Become part of your environment”.  

Written by Apta Maheswari

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