Yayoi Kusama Transforms Obsession and Accumulation into Art and Medicine

We’ve written before 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.

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 rigorously, daily. But we had no idea of the power of her influence, dedication and work until we saw this remarkable video interview. 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

Here are examples of Kusama’s use of accumulation and obsession to create beauty and personal healing (the opposite of Marie Kondo!…). And her complete absorption while she is working…”self-obliteration”.

Kusama in her studio in 1961 with Infinity Net Paintings, shown at David Zwirner Gallery:

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

Yayoi Kusama



Bottom two images via Design Boom


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