Magpie Anthology

Yayoi Kusama

The artist and Instagram sensation famous for pumpkins and polka dots has managed her mental health through making art.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is a phenomenon. Through her talent, determination and vision she’s spent eight decades taking on the white, male art establishment – and winning. In recent years her work has found a huge new audience in her international exhibitions and on social media, from her celestial Infinity Mirrored Room installations to her expansive paintings.

But there’s much more to her than that. And though she’s reinvented herself and her art on several occasions, and one of her main goals has always been to inspire joy and happiness.

Throughout her career, Kusama’s work has been intuitive. She creates work based on her own psychological experiences and uses her art to come to terms with her compulsions and her visions.

“It’s been said that she doesn’t have to draft out her paintings before committing them to canvas,” “She is portraying exactly what she sees in her field of vision.”

Colour plays an important role here. Her vibrant use of colour counterbalances her often serious subject matter. Take for example her ongoing My Eternal Soul series – bold, bright and often surreal paintings of faces and other sometimes threatening abstract forms, which demonstrate an intuitive approach to figurative art-making. Yet it’s her Pumpkins and Polka dots that we see here that have rocketed her social media presence and we think they are strikingly brilliant pieces.

Yayoi says of the pumpkin….‘It’s a very humble vegetable. And there’s a sense of democracy about it…..’

You can see Yayoi Kusama’s work at the TATE. South Bank. London.

Edited from the WE PRESENT blog by WE TRANSFER.

Words by Maisie Skidmore; All images are courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. © YAYOI KUSAMA

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