Kusama is one of those artists whose own life seems inseparable to her artistic endeavours; a Japanese tour-de-force whose hallucinations and visions intertwine seamlessly with her polka-dot covered creations. Her work literally invites the viewer into her own mind.
Spending her early years learning traditional styles of Japanese art, Kusama became sick of learning from her masters and left for New York, being both inspired and an inspiration to the avant-garde movement. After several years, however, she returned to Japan and became a permanent resident in a mental institution, setting up an art studio nearby and becoming a stranger to the evolving art world.
Kusama is known mainly for her patterned installations that trick the eye, but she has taken on many different mediums, from visceral novels to oil paintings. Her work is fascinating and unapologetic, and completely honest. Despite hating her experience at one of the traditional schools of Japanese art, the way she describes the ubiquitous polka-dot is very telling;
…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing.
Perhaps the polka-dot is in some way representative of the red dot on the Japanese flag, or even an Umeboshi nestling on a bed of steaming rice - a comforting reminder of traditional Japan in an ever changing world.