Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist, well-known for her contributions to the art movements of Pop Art and Minimalism. Her artwork throughout her career ranges from sculptures and paintings to films and installations; with Kusama being known for her extensive use of polka dots in her pieces and her experiential infinity installations. 

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Yayoi Kusama and her paintings © BBC News 

She gained widespread recognition when she established herself in New York with a few solo exhibitions. She started with her collection of paintings and sculptures that feature endless repetitive motifs, true to her method of expression and highlighting her conceptual art style. Throughout her whole career, she continues to reinvent and innovate her style while adhering to key methods and features characteristic of her work. 

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘infinity net’ paintings consisted of thousands of marks across large canvases, with no regard for the edge of the canvas, which heightened the sense of continued infinity to the pieces. Her works incorporated and explored the physical and psychological boundaries of paintings with the obsessive and repetitive nature of the artwork creating a hypnotic experience for the viewer as well as the artist. 

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Installation view ©ART HEALERS

Kusama has produced a body of work, pursuing the philosophy of manifesting macrocosmic and microcosmic forms of the universe through her artwork. Her work is unified through the use of repetitive dots which to her symbolise the millions of stars within the universe and act as physical representations of the concept of infinity. 

The provocative nature of her work features repetitive motifs and imagery of creation, destruction, obsession, feminism and self-reflection. Many of the motifs she used became trademarks that were rooted within all her artwork. She was a very important figure in creating a link between the forms of minimalism and Pop Art, which made her work very interesting and unique. 

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Yayoi Kusama in action ©The Guardian

The artist began expressing her creativity through painting at the age of 10, as a way of escaping the neglect and trauma she experienced as a child. Her visions of patterns, especially dots, encompassing her surroundings were a strong influence on her work. Repetition and obsession with patterns were key themes of her artwork and paintings which heightened her international recognition and individuality. 

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She has recently been awarded prizes and also became the best-selling female artist, as her pieces were sold for record-breaking values. Kusama has also been considered to be an influence on Andy Warhol’s Pop artwork and was a close friend of artists Eva Hesse and Georgia O’Keeffe. 

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Exhibition comprising lights and mirrors © Yayoi Kusama 

Her work continues to appeal to the senses and trigger the imagination with mirror installations, large public sculptures and paintings of her dot obsession. Her infinity mirror rooms installations have become immersive experiences that visitors enjoy, with numbers rising exponentially to see her experiential artwork. Kusama’s work and installations portray an obsessive nature and desire to escape from traumatic psychological experiences, with her use of mirrors offering her the opportunity to create infinite planes within her exhibitions. The installations aim to immerse the viewer in a world of endless vision and dots through mirrored spaces and forms. 

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Kusama with Pumpkin sculpture ©dazeddigital.com

These repetitive works that Kusama created were initially meant to eliminate her hallucinations and intrusive thoughts but she now shares them infinitely with the world. She wanted to re-create the moods and feelings that she experienced in the audience, through the light, stillness and labyrinth-like spaces of her installations. She aimed to control how the viewers perceive space and time as they journey through her exhibits and wanted to make them sympathise with her troubled and traumatic life. 

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Yayoi Kusama has always been very open about her mental health and believes that art has become a way of her self-expression and spreading messages to the younger generations. Her current Infinity Mirrored Rooms installations have become very popular and comprise mirrored planes creating rooms filled with different coloured lights, forming various experiential zones of interactive artwork.

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Infinity Mirrored Rooms Exhibition © Yayoi Kusama at 90 – CNN Style

Yayoi Kusama is now one of the world’s most important and influential contemporary artists and her identity in many contexts is seen as unique and different as she is a female artist in a male-dominated society and field. She is also an Oriental person of Japanese descent within the Western art world, which set her apart and made her more notable as a contemporary artist. 

After achieving international fame, Yayoi Kusama returned to her country of birth and now resides there as Japan’s most prominent and successful contemporary creator of artwork recognised and appreciated worldwide. 

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Author

Currently a final year BA Architecture student in the UK; Abbarnah is passionate about art and nature, an avid reader and a believer in embracing culture and spirituality. She hopes to inspire through her artwork and writing; highlighting the beauty and importance of creativity in our ever-changing world.

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