KUSAMA INFINITY: IN CINEMAS 26 DECEMBER
WHY WATCH THE MOVIE?
We’ve all seen the shots of the mirrored Infinity mirror rooms, but many of us had no idea of the decades of oppression and eccentricity in a life that had to occur in order for this and many other world renowned artworks to materialise.
JAKARTA: 16 May 2018 – The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama at the YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibition held at Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN) (Photo Credit: Harismoyo)
If ever the art world had skeletons in its closet it would be the story that’s presented in Heather Lenz’ documentary, KUSAMA: INFINITY. Following the journey of one of the most renowned female artists in modern art. Yayoi Kusama’s artistic expression was well ahead of its time and only continued to thrive after being ostracized in a male dominated art landscape where ethnic minorities were few and non-existent. Heather
LONDON: 25 Sep 2018 – Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, London. (Photo Credit: Alachan)
Lenz’s Kusama: Infinity accounts the many ways Yayoi Kusama was marginalized by the prejudices of an era, an artist ignored for a generation where she’s now able to let us in to her world with many popular living artists presenting her dues after being relegated to a corner of scandal by the art community in the past.
WHO IS THE ARTIST?
Today, she’s the most successful and prominent female artist in the world, but it would be more than 6 decades before she attained the accolades she receives today. A trailblazer for her time in a 1950s political climate dominated by men and where women’s liberation was a non-existent concept let alone an exclusive one in the art world for someone of Japanese heritage. Even her own family disrespected the natural passion she had for art with her mother tearing up her canvas as a child as it didn’t conform with the meek and conservative culture that would ensure an ideal arranged marriage.
In the last five years more than 5 million people have flocked to see her work in New York, but up until recent times only two people knew that the now, 89 year old Japanese artist has been living voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital for the last 41 years while hosting large scale exhibitions in Mexico City, Rio, Seoul, Taiwan and Chile, US and Europe.
Kusama was an underdog with everything stacked against her-the trauma of growing up in Japan during World War II, life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her creative ambitions, sexism and racism in the art establishment, mental illness in a culture where that was a particular shame, and eventually growing old and continuing to pursue and be devoted to her art full time. There are no drafts, plans or blueprints – when she sits down to create, it becomes the final work.
Her popular culture trademarks include polka dots which are seen in her legacy of artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry, and novels, and the documentary will give you a deeper insight and understanding to the expressions really at play if you have viewed these pieces before.
THE REAL STORY BEHIND YAYOI KUSAMA’S ART:
– She’s been making art since she was 10
– The documentary reveals an adolescence of hallucinations and post-war panic attacks, fro flowers appearing in the tablecloth that enveloped her and chased her into her room, to the sudden bursts of radiance in the sky, we learn that these vibrant elements and themes that tend to re-appear in her pieces have their genesis steeped in trauma
– Another motif that has become her signature include her pumpkins. It was with her grandfather as a child when she picked one up and it began speaking to her. A silver pumpkin sculpture of hers 80 years later was sold for $500,000
NAOSHIMA ISLAND: 19 Jul 2014 – Giant pumpkin objects by Yayoi Kusama that exist permanently on the island (Photo Credit: hedgehog111)
– Her love for watercolor on canvas was born from her conscription to a factory at the age of 13 after the attack on Pearl Harbour. A series of net paintings created recounting the waves of the Pacific Ocean when she flew in an aeroplane for the first time. One of the canvasses in this series sold four years ago for over $7 million cementing her prominence as the highest paid living female artist. Chasm recalls selling a piece from the same collection for $75 in the 1960s.
THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
COPENHAGEN: 13 Oct 2017 – Gleaming Lights of the Souls” (Photo Credit: ephst)
The material success of her work doesn’t seem to phase the meek and humble artist after pledging to her younger self decades ago that she was simply going to express her thoughts through her art which today have moved millions. This deeper insight into the artist’s life will bring about new dimensions of interpretation and meaning for those familiar with her work. The themes presented will resonate and captivate a mainstream audience not necessarily in the art world who will discover an appreciation for her work and art as a whole.
Kusama: Infinity – Opens in Cinemas Boxing Day 2018
Production companies: Magnolia Pictures, Tokyo Lee Productions Inc., Submarine Entertainment, Dogwoof, Parco, Dakota Group LTD
Director-screenwriter: Heather Lenz
Producers: Heather Lenz, Karen Johnson, David Koh, Dan Braun
Executive producers: Stanley Buchthal, Josh Braun, Ryan Brooks, Brandon Chen
Director of photography: Hart Perry
Editor: Keita Ideno
Composer: Allyson Newman
In English and Japanese – 76 minutes