Featured Artist – Yayoi kusama

Whilst in Japan I really wanted to see an exhibition by Yayoi kusama, I love the vibrancy in her work and being in her home country gave me goosebumps at the thought of seeing her famous pumpkins up close!


ALL ABOUT MY LOVE exhibition photos


A new gallery dedicated solely to her work (Yayoi Kusama Museum in Shinjuku, Tokyo), was opened last November. Unfortunately the waiting list for tickets was so long that that wasn’t an option. Luckily… if you are willing to travel to her home town of Matsumoto, roughly 3 hours from Tokyo, you can visit the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, currently showing: “All About My Love”, which runs to July 22nd 2018. It is a showcase of Kusama’s work, full of colour and sensory stimulation and well worth a visit!


ALL ABOUT MY LOVE exhibition photos


Now in her 80s she has lead an extraordinary life. She grew up in Matsumoto, before moving to Kyoto to study Nihonga – a traditional style of Japanese painting. She has previously stated that she hated this rigid and conforming practice and period of her life.

She began to take influence from cubism and realism, and due to stumbling on a book by Georgia O’Keeffe in a second hand shop and finding a connection, embarked on a series of correspondence with the artist, which would eventually take her to New York in 1957.


ALL ABOUT MY LOVE exhibition photos


Creating at a time with artists like: Rothko, de Kooning, Lichtenstein and Warhol on the scene, Yayoi absorbed everything she could. Her time in New York has been widely publicised as being financially and psychologically traumatic on her. Following a brief spot in the limelight, Kusama returned to Tokyo in 1973 and later checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the mentally ill in 1977, where she has remained since.


ALL ABOUT MY LOVE exhibition photos


Kusama’s struggle with mental illness can be traced back to her childhood. She has been very open about the hallucinations she has experienced since a young age. One of her earliest works, aged just 5, features her famous “dots”. She has stated previously that: “I don’t want to cure my mental problems, rather I want to utilise them as a generating force for my art.”

We are far too quick to brush over or hide mental health issues. We do not all fit in a specific mould, this is one of the things I like most about the world we live in. It makes for such great variety! I love the work of Yayoi Kusama, for within it there is a great truth that I feel is missed by many. Yes, its fun, its colourful, BUT it also shouts about mental health. It puts it right in your face, almost celebrating it. Celebrating how beautifully flawed we all are in some way. It is positive, and I love her boldness in this area. She brings colour to a very grey area.


ALL ABOUT MY LOVE exhibition photos


The Matsumoto City Museum of Art gave a expansive and thorough look into the practice of one of my favourite artists and it didn’t disappoint! From diabolical installations to the well known pumpkins, this retrospective provided an in depth catalogue of work, dating right back to her childhood and early career, which gave a really refreshing and honest look at one of Japan’s most acclaimed artists.

“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment”.

– Yayoi Kusama

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**All images are owned by OiOiArts. OiOiArts retains full copyright.


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