In Pictures | Yayoi Kusamas colourful life gets the graphic novel treatment


Yayoi Kusama is famed all around the world for her dotty works and Instagram-friendly immersive installations but this was not always the case. The life and career of the Japanese artist are the subject of a new comic Kusama: The Graphic Novel by the Thai-Italian illustrator Elisa Macellari, which is published next month by Laurence King. The unofficial biography charts Kusamas life from her first psychotic episodes as a child, through her move to New York where she organised infamous performances and met many of the citys most famous artists, to a period of decline and mental health issues before gaining worldwide recognition later in life. “Her experience is an example of a woman, strong and fragile at the same time, who is transforming herself into art,” Macellari says.

The new graphic novel is primarily based on Kusamas Infinity Net: My Autobiography (Tate Publishing, 2013) and the 2018 documentary Kusama: Infinity directed by Heather Lenz. “Kusamas world is eccentric, captivating and inclusive,” Macellari says. “I just took a small step inside it and her dense life mesmerised me.” The artists signature bright red is a constant throughout, highlighting the presence of spots and colours in both Kusamas work but also in hallucinations the artist has experienced since childhood. “I tried to find my own language, using graphic signs as the polka dots or small circles to create a visual rhythm,” Macellari says. “I also loved choosing the colour palette, which tells a story full of contrasts.”

Six episodes from the life of Yayoi Kusama:

Kusama is born in 1929 into a wealthy family in the Japanese city of Matsumoto. She begins painting and drawing obsessively from a young age but is often discouraged from doing so by her mother. Her mother also sends the young Kusama to spy on her father, whom she rightly suspected of having affairs.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elisa Macellari Courtesy of Laurence King

As a child Kusama begins having hallucinations, which she would suffer from for much of her life, often seeing spots and hearing voices. In her late teens Kusama enrols at an arts and crafts school in Kyoto where she continues her prolific output. Her psychiatrist sees her work and encourages Kusama to leave home, where her mother often torments her and destroys her pictures, as he says she will continue to experience nervous breakdowns if she remains. Kusama discovers the work of Georgia OKeeffe and writes to the American artist who responds encouragingly and suggests she travel to the US.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elisa Macellari Courtesy of Laurence King

Kusama eventually moves to New York in 1957, packing around 2,000 works with her and destroying much of the rest. She begins paintings repetitively and obsessively again, often as a way of trying to rid herself of her anxiety.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elisa Macellari Courtesy of Laurence King

She has her first solo show in 1959 at the Brata Gallery, which is reviewed by Donald Judd who also buys one of her works. Kusama goes on to meet several art world stars in New York, including Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí. In the 1960s Kusama starts her own fashion line, film company and organises a same-sex wedding. She begins organising several public performances too, painting her signature red dots onto the performers naked bodies.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elisa Macellari Courtesy of Laurence King

In 1964 Kusama meets Joseph Cornell and soon strikes up an unlikely but close platonic relationship with the artist who is nearly three decades older. They remain close until his death in 1972.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by ElRead More – Source


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