Japan's Polka-Dot Pioneer on a Life at the Mercy of Her Art
She says that if she doesn't paint she wouldn't exist," says Martin Rietti of his latest subject, 84-year old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. "Her work has an authenticity that I don't often seen in contemporary art." The Argentinian director visited Kusama at her studio in Tokyo ahead of her latest show that opened at the Museo de Arte Lationamericano de Buenos Aires, curated by Deputy Chief Curator of MALBA, Philip Larratt-Smith, and Francis Morris, who curated her retrospective at the Tate in 2012. This first major retrospective in Latin America opened on June 30th before traveling to four other cities in South and Central America over the next year and a half. It leads the viewer through over 100 works created between 1950 and the present day, spanning her early period in Japan Cornell, and her return to Tokyo, where she had been living voluntarily in a psychiatric clinic since 1977. "Her work is not only a revelation of her inner psychic reality but also a sort of time capsulate of the emancipatory and utopian moment of the 1960's," says Larratt-Smith. "She is a very seductive person, secretive and charming. When she speaks the obsessive cast of her mind becomes immediately clear: she talks in circles, often repeating the same thing many times. It is clear she has deep psychic wounds, but also that her work sustains her and keeps her going."