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Actor George Clooney for the December-January cover of W’s annual art issue, unveils just another side of his playful personality, as he’s not afraid to try yet something new. He let himself loose to the hands of five fierce female artists and the outcome is outstanding. Here, I am going to display what caught my attention and is in humble my opinion, by far, the leading artwork among the five, in total.
Yayoi Kusama‘s work that is. The ”Princess of Polka Dots” , as the paparazzi nicknamed her in the 1960s, when she lived in New York City. At that time, she rivaled Andy Warhol for press attention. Now in her 80s, Kusama is considered Japan’s greatest living artist. She never really received formal training as an artist. Went to Kyoto, where she enrolled in academic art classes but rarely attended classes there. That was just an attempt to flee from her mother’s violence, who did not took well with her daughter’s artistic flair. ”She hated to see me painting, so she destroyed the canvases I was working on. I have been painting pictures since I was about ten years old when I first started seeing hallucinations.”
”I found the school too conservative and the instructors out of touch with the reality of the modern era. I was painting pictures in the dormitory instead of attending classes” Kusama says.
Acknowledged as a predecessor of Minimalism, Kusama made headlines for street performances in which she painted polka dots on nude men and women. But Kusama was largely forgotten by the art world after she returned to Japan in 1973, suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder and her psychiatrist suggested that she was committed to a mental institution. She was hospitalized at the mental hospital in Tokyo in 1975. Kusama chose to live there. Even though she was receiving treatment and was living confined to the walls of the istitution, she remained an avid writer, sculptor, painter. While there, she worked at her condominium-turned-studio near the hospital as well as at a studio she has been renting for some years, which was just a few minutes walk from the hospital. She also created a large sculpture in the big yard of the hospital—a store-bought rowboat completely covered with stuffed canvas protuberances.
Kusama’s art is an expression of her mental illness, as she 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. I create pieces even when I don’t see hallucinations, though.”
Yayoi Kusama was born in Nagano Prefecture. She started to paint using polka dots and nets as motifs at around age ten ,and created fantastic paintings in watercolors, pastels and oils. Went to the United States in 1957. Showed large paintings, soft sculptures, and environmental sculptures using mirrors and electric lights. In the latter 1960s, staged many happenings such as body painting festivals, fashion shows and anti-war demonstrations. Launched media-related activities such as film production and newspaper publication. In 1968, the film: “Kusama’s Self-Obliteration” which Kusama produced and starred in won a prize at the Fourth International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium and the Second Maryland Film Festival and the second prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Held exhibitions and staged happenings also in various countries in Europe. Returned to Japan in 1973. Read more:http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp
Bellow: The artist; Yayoi Kusama