The secret code of Yayoi Kusama

The secret code of Yayoi Kusama

I’m here but nothing’. This is the title given to the Yayoi Kusama’s living room covered by fluorescent polka dots at the Tate Modern Gallery of London (9 Feb – 5 Jun 2012). But what does is she trying to say us? The fact of depicting the realty with an infinite number of polka dots has to have a precise meaning. Since Yayoi was a child, in fact, she started to suffer by strong hallucinations which will characterize her art production. The recreation of them in a parallel universe made by polka dots and anthropomorphous figures is the secret of her world-wide success.

However, passing through almost 50 years of art creation characterized by one single life motive – the polka dots – I can state that Yayoi’s art is something which transcends Aesthetic. In other words, Yayoi Kusama’s life can be translated into a precise message, or a secret code to be deciphered. The revelation of it can be the key for a way to escape from the real world or, conversely, it might be a way to lose her-self in an undefined space.

Such duality between the real and the hallucinatory world pushed Yayoi to intern her-self voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital since 1977 to nowadays. In spite of this physically self-censure – or ‘self-obliteration’, using an artist’s expression – Yayoi Kusama has never stopped her creativity and artistic manifestation, she has not stopped to spread his message.

Are we able to interpret such message?

The poetry dedicated to the Japanese woman by Joseph Cornel is a clear, even if sad, clue:

‘Fly back to me

Spring Flower

And I shall tie a string on you

Like this butterfly’

Bus he could not tie her. The soul of the mad-pining woman, embodied in the infinite repetition of the polka dots, is free as sent postcards, they travel in research of destination for an indefinite while.

This can be an interpretation of the act of reproducing her-self in form of dots. Spreading her own soul in infinite multi-coloured pieces, Kusama is trying to leave a track of her-self, which will last infinitely.


Words and pics by Elisa Da Rin Puppel

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