Despite – or should we say “thanks to”- her continuous struggle with mental health issues, this influential Japanese artist’s career has spanned over half a century.
She started making her art as an outlet to deal with her mental health problems.
Yayoi Kusama, born in Matsumoto Japan in 1922, started painting her signature polka dot motifs as early as the age of 10 to deal with her mental health problems. She has severe depersonalization disorder and the polka dots is what she sees in her hallucinations.
Her disorder turned her life into a web of endless figures and the only way she could regain control, was to paint all the dots she kept seeing. Her art is mesmerizing in its seeming infiniteness.
She has been a huge influence (to Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg to name a few) ever since she stepped onto the art scene way back in 1956. Her first art exhibition was in the Brata Gallery in 1959; Infinity Nets. The concept evolved from canvas to full-scale installations in 1963 with Infinity Mirror Rooms.
Yayoi returned to Japan in 1973 to undergo treatment for depersonalization syndrome. There she expanded her art with poetry and literary work. Since 1977 when she admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo, she’s been living there and creating art in the studio across the street. And she keeps winning prestigious awards for her art and was even named the world’s most popular artist in 2014!