For her latest Exhibit A Skye Sherwin closely inspects Yayoi Kusama series of collages, as seen in the Another Art Book.
Yayoi Kusuma’s collages for AnOther Magazine are a like a scrapbook of her greatest hits. Here she is in the early 1960s, when she was first making a name for herself in New York, nude and painted with polka-dots, looking coyly at the camera from within one of her Accumulations – penile protrusions made from hand-stitched, cotton-stuffed fabric, which cover every inch of their environments like so many skin cells under a microscope. The nubby lumps multiply over a rowing boat, an ironing board, ladder, furniture and clothing or spring jauntily from women’s high-heeled shoes, all sprayed silver, in a conflation of male and female fetish. Sometimes the repetitious phalluses are made even more overwhelming, painted with dizzying dots as in Kusama’s Endless Floor Show of 1968, where she stands in a dotty cat suit, surrounded by an eternal forest of red and white fabric erections, like hallucinogenic toadstools, reflected to infinity by mirrored walls. While the iconic Japanese artist has been aligned with Pop art, her motives are deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Famously, her obsessively-realised work is the result of hallucinations, where she sees patterns obliterate both her and the world. Though one of the most famous living art-stars, she’s a notorious recluse. In 1977 she entered a Japanese psychiatric institution suffering from obsessional neurosis and has never left, though she works doggedly on sculptures, poems and novels, each and every day. ''Accumulation, repetition, obliteration, infinity”, is Kusama’s creed. So too “Love Forever”, the slogan she promoted in the Happenings she staged to protest against the war in Vietnam. While the idea of destroying self-hood with the world unified under a single pattern, is unnerving, Kusama’s manic vision has its transcendental aspect, uniting all things in an eternally dotty universe.
Another Art Book is published by Steidl and out now.