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Yayoi Kusama – Outsider Artist? 2

(continued from previous post)

Our volunteer writes:

When considering Yayoi Kusama’s art, most critics choose to focus on her lifelong pathological hallucinations. However, Kusama began reflecting on her work in relation to her illness only after returning to Japan in the 1970’s and her subsequent admission into the psychiatric hospital where she continues to reside. Earlier self-analysis showed sharp insight into the creative processes governing her work. During her time in New York she was acutely aware of current artist trends such as Abstract Expressionism but disassociated herself from such trends in an effort to cement her individuality as an artist. She identified childhood visions as inspiration for some of her most dynamic work such as her Infinity Net series, but related these creative sources to her current belief in Mysticism and attributed artistic power to the harnessing of the dark and demonic side of experience, to listening to the undercurrents of life and identifying things that hide in the shadows: “My mind now searches for all attractive splendours which unfold from the shadow of the obscure world.” However, she didn’t illustrate these beliefs with any personal psychopathological experiences. This changed dramatically after her hospitalization in 1977 when accounts of her mental health began to dominate her own artistic story, and renewed the interest of art critics. This switch to a more psychological account of her work could be due to treatment she was receiving making her more self-aware and better able to articulate her past experiences.

To be continued.