Art was the escape from Yayoi Kusama’s deeply traumatic childhood. Her artistic talent, despised by her mother, who’s anger was constantly directed onto her, served her survival growing up. Being told by her mother that she was not loved and that she wished she had never been born. Witnessing her fathers infidelities. These were the childhood memories that taunted her throughout her life and her artistic career.
Then eventually, after years of exclusion from the mainstream male dominated art world; being called scandalous; and disowned by her family, her art served the world with its intrigue & beauty. Known for her bright polka-dotted images, she acquired world wide acclaim for the innovative art she created; Mirrors (on exhibit at AGO), Nude Events and Infinity Nets. Her entire life’s work; painting what she saw in her pained and troubled mind.
Today at 88 years of age, Artist Yayoi Kusama voluntarily resides at a mental health hospital in Japan, very close to her studio where she continues to create works of art that make her the most beloved contemporary artist in history. A distinction possible only because of her tenacity, resilience and passion to paint the images she saw in her head no matter how unfairly the world regarded her and her art.
Her longevity and all that she created is a gift and a treasure to all of mankind. Her legacy is one of healing through art. She is of my tribe. The tribe of those that mental illness did not break and who simply by living a full and whole life are proof that the stigma of mental illness is false. Furthermore she is the epitome of my deeply help belief that mental illness is a transformational process and not an affliction.
The director and screenwriter, Heather Lenz outstandingly captures an extraordinary artist and equally so, brings to light the transformation of Kusama’s trauma into the exquisite art that the world treasures. The film succeeds at telling Kusama’s truth and that truth will do much to guide us to a place of better understanding of mental illness. Bravo and thank you from my heart to yours Heather, for a film that serves Kusama’s courageous story, her exquisite art and the truth of her struggles, in the world and in her mind.