Yayoi Kusama’s face comes into focus like a vivid dollop of paint on a white canvas. All red and orange hair in a bob marked by its razor-sharp lines. At 93 years old, the contemporary artist’s visage does not reveal her age. It does, instead, offer up four spherical keys to her life’s passion, or rather obsession – circles into infinity. Her staring, round, black eyes seem to have the power of absorption, like they will suck you in if you dare look too long. Below them, her black nostrils appear to exhale. With poetry and exactitude, Kusama, considered one of the world’s greatest living female artists, has filtered and drawn her life to her liking. The dots of her eyes and nose spill onto her sweater and purse. “Like art, beautiful fashion can bring inspiration, joy, and help us to fight boldly against life,” she says.
The artist is wearing Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama. After 2012, this is the second time she collaborates with the French fashion house. It is, however, a first that her collection – or any collection with LV – crosses every single one of its product categories, from womenswear to accessories, fragrance, and men’s, bags, shoes, and sunglasses. The maison expresses that “When it comes to the magic of making objects, anything is possible.” Both house and artist recognize each other in this creation of pieces that aims to transcend space and time and recognize each other along the way. “During my last project, I received a great response from people all over the world,” Kusama says. “In this project as well, I would like to share my artistic philosophy and thoughts with everyone.” She adds that she carries “a strong longing for the grandeur and mystery of the universe,” and that her philosophy “is based on the idea that the sun and the moon are just one of the countless dots in the universe, and that we are all small life forms within.” Her philosophy inclines that Kusama, who ran a fashion company in the Sixties and has made her own clothes since she was a teenager, does not consider fashion and art distinct from each other. “I don’t think of them as separate, because that way I can explore new fields.” She shares that everything she has ever crafted has been from her soul. Not one to let time slow her creativity, she is now working on a new series “Every Day I Pray For Love.”
Born in Matsumoto City, Japan, from childhood Kusama experienced visual and auditory hallucinations. From this, around age 10, she began creating net and polka-dot pattern pictures. She traveled to New York – “my spiritual home, where I inspired myself and challenged myself with art” – in 1957 and through her art and artistic connections, among them Donald Judd and Andy Warhol, became recognized as an avant- garde artist. “We believe that looking back at our place in society and creating a new history is the avant-garde,” she comments.
Kusama considers her repetition and multiplication of single motifs enabling a sort of self-obliteration. “My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots,” she writes in her autobiography Infinity Net. Her exhibitions from the Tate Modern to the Pompidou Museum and tours in Latin America and Asia, retrospectives in Berlin and Tel Aviv, and most recently in Qatar for a vast outdoor exhibition titled My Soul Blooms Forever have been enjoyed by millions of visitors.
The artist used to live in poverty, “not even having enough to eat,” she recalls. “I am now in the best time of my life because I am in an environment where I can devote myself to painting from morning to night,” she says. “I have fought hard to create a new future history with a dedicated avant-garde attitude,” she reflects. “I believe that now is an important time for me to create new art, and I put my whole heart and soul into my work every day. I can’t imagine a life other than being an artist. ‘Love Forever’ is the message that encompasses all of my art, and I want to convey the wonderful love of humanity to everyone through it.”
Drop One Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama from January 6, Drop two March 31. Look for pop-ups, AR experiences, an XR game, and more
Printed in the January 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia
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