The Art of Yayoi Kusama: Obsession Becomes Medicine

(Video link here.) In July, we posted about Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, now in her nineties, whose mantra was always “self-obliteration”—to lose herself in the work, or to the work, to save herself”,  a concept she called “art-medicine”.  “I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art,” she wrote in her autobiography. We were very moved by the work we saw, and her story of having “flamed out” in midlife, to live for over forty years in a mental hospital, making art daily, rigorously. But we had no idea of the power of her influence, dedication and work until we saw this remarkable 7-minute video interview (which flies by). It was produced on the occasion of the 2011-2012 traveling retrospective Yayoi Kusama organized by Tate Modern, London. In it, Kusama speaks of two concepts that the world generally views negatively: obsession and accumulation, and shows how her work with them has been the means of transformation and healing for her.

  Accumulation is how the stars and the earth don’t exist alone. But rather the entire universe is made of the stars. — Yayoi Kusama

Check out this virtual slide show retrospective of her work. Here’s Kusama in her studio in 1961 with Infinity Net Paintings:

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Net Paintings 1961

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Net Paintings 1961, Courtesy David Zwirner

Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013:

Courtesy David Zwirner and Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc. photo: Maris Hutchinson

Courtesy David Zwirner and Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc. photo: Maris Hutchinson

Photo: Gautier Deblonde Courtesy David Zwirner

Photo: Gautier Deblonde, Courtesy David Zwirner

Kusama’s work will be on view at the David Zwirner Gallery in NYC November 8 – December 21, 2013.

Bottom two images via Design Boom 

With big thanks to Maria Robledo!

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