I've spoken before on here about both my love of polka dots and the art of Yayoi Kusama. So, with that in mind, it seemed fitting that the first artist I really talk about on this blog would be Kusama.... here we go!
If you're unfamiliar with her work, then the first thing you will probably notice is the sheer amount of polka dots used. Her art is very much about portraying what it's like inside her brain - since childhood she has experienced hallucinations and struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She started drawing dots when she was 10, and has carried on with it ever since.
She refers to her vast field of polka dots as "infinity nets", taken directly from her hallucinations. Her earliest recorded work to have used polka dots (shown above) is a portrait of a Japanese woman in a kimono (believed to be Kusama's mother), covered in dots, produced in 1939 at the age of 10.
Kusama lived in New York between 1957 and 1972, during which time she became quite involved in political activism, organising events to protest the Vietnam War in locations like Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge. At one point, she wrote an open letter to Richard Nixon, offering to have vigorous sex with him if he stopped the war.
While I was first drawn to Kusama's art on a purely superficial level - a mutual love of polka dots - it was finding out more about her as a person and the inspirations behind her art that led to it meaning so much to me. I've touched on it a little on here, but I do have mental health issues of my own (one of which is also OCD) and I love the way Kusama is able to take all that's going on in her head and turn it into something physical, something external as opposed to taking up so much internal space and energy. I'd love to be able to do that for myself one day (maybe if my confidence goes up a little, I'll post some artwork on here), but for now, Kusama's art is a huge help to me.
Despite her difficulties, Kusama has become one of the most respected female artists in history. Her art has encompassed a variety of media, including painting, drawing, film, fashion and immersive installation. I've really only scratched the surface of her work here so, just as when I last wrote about her, I'd really recommend checking out her work for yourself!