Overcoming dark days with the power of art

For those that knew Yayoi Kusama, they would have known her to be undoubtedly a talented and original individual who came up with beautiful pieces. But her beautiful artworks did not come in easy. She has her own hurdles in life that she struggled with and coped with her own ways. Ever since she was a young child, Kusama suffered with various psychological problems. Although it was barely a positive in her life, many has considered her difficulties to be the main source of inspiration for her works. Sure, enough from that, Kusama did not have the best of childhoods but on top of that, she was abused by her very own mother. She then began to suffer from intense audio-visual hallucinations which she was never cured of. Despite some constraints, she has the freedom to work on what she was best at, Art. She would go across the street, work on her art and continue with her novels in her room at the hospital at night.

In a 1999 interview with BOMB Artists in Conversation, Kusama stated: “My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease. I create pieces even when I don’t see hallucinations, though. By translating hallucinations and fear of hallucinations into paintings, I have been trying to cure my disease.”

Despite Graves disease are less common for adults rather than children, it could be possible that her traumatic childhood affected her mental state in her adult life. Kusama was also admitted in the mental facility in Japan for over 40 years despite the country’s recognition for one of the best medical care and longevity, on top of the fact that its average duration in keeping someone admitted in a mental facility is roughly about a year, it certainly does not play out that way in Kusama’s situation.

Kusama is definitely not the first or the only individual who has remarkable talent despite suffering from an illness but yet able to produce beautiful work. Some may believe that many geniuses or talents such as herself may be in debt to these “sickness” for their ability to create something beautiful or intricate as she has. As such, some would believe that she may not have such talent if she did not suffer from any mental ordeals or such. With the creativity of Kusama, we can never fully compromise or articulate what is completely in her extravagant mind.


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