Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan, in 1929, at a time of major economic crisis and growing nationalism when Japanese traditions and social a conservatism were strongly promoted. Her aptitude for art began as a child, and though her family discouraged her, Kusama went on to study painting in Kyoto. While searching for ‘unlimited freedom and a wider world’ she later moved to the US in 1957, spent the 1960s in New York and immersed herself in the ever-changing art scene there.
The artist returned to Japan in 1973. Kusama has experienced mental health problems her whole life, around this time she began to have acute hallucinations, and admitted herself into a Tokyo hospital in 1977 in response. Now 92, she still resides there to this day, with her studio close by. The artist explains ‘I write novels and poems and I also paint in the hospital, they are my saviours’.
‘It would be futile and meaningless to focus on the shrinking time-frame before me, or to think of my limitations. I shall never stop striving to make works that will shine on after my death’ – Yayoi Kusama