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Hallucinatory works convey beauty, strength

  • TAKU YAGINUMA / SPECIAL TO JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI
                                Above, “Flower Obsession,” a work based on Kusama’s hallucinations, is an interactive piece that allows visitors to paste yellow artificial flowers and flower-shaped stickers anywhere in the gallery.

    TAKU YAGINUMA / SPECIAL TO JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

    Above, “Flower Obsession,” a work based on Kusama’s hallucinations, is an interactive piece that allows visitors to paste yellow artificial flowers and flower-shaped stickers anywhere in the gallery.

  • AP / 2012
                                Yayoi Kusama

    AP / 2012

    Yayoi Kusama

  • TAKU YAGINUMA / SPECIAL TO JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI
                                At top, Yayoi Kusama’s series of large-scale paintings, called “My Eternal Soul,” is displayed on a wall while “Cloud,” a reflective stainless steel work, is arranged on the gallery floor.

    TAKU YAGINUMA / SPECIAL TO JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

    At top, Yayoi Kusama’s series of large-scale paintings, called “My Eternal Soul,” is displayed on a wall while “Cloud,” a reflective stainless steel work, is arranged on the gallery floor.

TOKYO >> Even at the age of 92, avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, known for works that feature polka dots and pumpkins, still has a strong desire to create art.

She still paints each day and has already produced more than 800 works in her series of large-scale paintings, “My Eternal Soul,” which she began creating in 2009.

Kusama, who since childhood has been troubled by auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations of being enveloped in a world of polka dots, has been able to calm her mind by drawing polka dots.

Titles of her paintings, such as “Days of Endlessly Seeking the Path, Even as Death Approaches” and “As I Gazed at a Stardust-Filled Universe, Suicide Slips My Mind,” convey a formidable commitment to producing her art. Her latest 1-square-meter acrylic paintings of circles and lines somehow embody strength.

A current exhibition, “Midway Between Mystery and Symbol: Yayoi Kusama’s Monochrome,” featuring 67 monochromatic pieces, runs through Dec. 26 at the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Shinjuku ward, Tokyo. The museum opened its doors in 2017.

On display near the entrance is a three-dimensional work, “The Passing Winter,” which, when peering through a hole in the piece, allows the viewer to see polka dots reflected in a mirror that seem to expand infinitely in a sort of kaleidoscopic mirage.

“Kusama’s works always depict a motif of self-obliteration through proliferation and repetition. She expresses that unintentionally, intuitively,” said Eriko Ueno, head of the museum’s public relations.

In “Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama,” the artist wrote: “I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated and I was restored, returned to infinity, to eternal time and absolute space.”

“Flower Obsession,” a work based on Kusama’s hallucinations, is an interactive piece that allows visitors to paste yellow artificial flowers and flower-shaped stickers anywhere they like in the gallery space.

On a recent visit, desks, chairs, lights and even the floor were covered in flowers. The room elicited delight from young women taking cellphone shots, their picture-taking punctuated with exclamations of “kawaii!” (cute!).

For this visitor, it was easy, with eyes closed, to let my thoughts drift to Kusama’s hallucinations and envision her, covered in yellow flowers.

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