A ten-year-old Japanese girl grew up with haunting images of dots and nets. Every time they appeared in her consciousness, she would draw them and this gave her a sense of ease. Drawing became her best friend, but her mother felt otherwise- she did everything in her power to destroy her daughter’s paintings, including taking away her inks. But this didn’t stop Yayoi Kusama and at the age of 85, she is still making art.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto. She studied the Arts in Kyoto. The rigidity of the school was so like a prison to her unbounded creativity that she chose to work from her dorm room instead of attending class. The turning point of her life was reading about an American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. Reaching out to her idol, Kusama wrote a letter, attaching some of her own work, and expressing a burning desire to go to New York. To her surprise, she received a reply from O’Keeffe commending her on her determination to become an artist in New York but warning her that the city was a harsh place for a young Japanese girl like her. Kusama however listened to her heart’s yearning and journeyed to the United States anyway. Before she left, she destroyed most of the work she had done throughout her life and vowed to make it big in New York and to never to return to Japan again.
It only took 18 months for Kusama to be given her own solo exhibition. The piece that brought her fame was 1959’s Infinity Nets in which was a depiction of an enor- mous net inspired by her hallucinations. She later made installation pieces and created art happenings where she and her participants would venture to different places and create art. One such example was painting nude bodies with dots at Central Park which received a lot of media attention. Kusama became the talk of the town.
She was out of the art scene for several years and returned to the spotlight again in 1989 when she was asked to display her work in New York. In 2012, Kusamacollabo - rated with Marc Jacobs on a special Louis Vuitton collection. Kusama’s works are exhibited in various well known galleries including the Tate Modern and MOMA. She is known to be one of the most influential living artists from Japan and the voice of the avant-garde.