The moving story of artist Yayoi Kusama’s lifelong battle against nightmares of obliteration – hallucinations of polka-dot patterns pervading and threatening to destroy not only her, but her family, her home and her world (a battle she fights precisely by deploying her artistic talents to depict these patterns) – is one often told in exhibition publicity, frequently under the rubric of the widely-supposed yet unexamined assumption of a link between ‘madness’ and ‘creativity’. In 2009 our Archivist saw Kusama’s work in Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and London’s Hayward Gallery, and came away impressed by the scale, accessibility and sheer joie de vivre of her output. The photograph below is of Dots Obsession, as displayed at the Hayward. Now that her work has returned to London (in a retrospective at Tate Modern), the ‘myth of the mad artist’ is likely to put in a renewed appearance, at least according to one of our volunteers here at the Archives & Museum, who has written a review of the exhibition.
( to be continued )