Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist whose focus on dots made her infamous and her work easily recognisable. As well as her iconic pieces of work including a dot motif she has created multiple “Infinity Rooms”, one of which is currently on display at the Tate Modern where tickets are sold out until 31 March 2022. Being very interested in Kusama’s work I was very curious in seeing what her studio looked like and how she would make use of the space.
Kusama’s studio is located in the Shinjuku district in Tokyo. The studio which is said to be incredibly organised is in a three-story building. Her studio is decorated with a collection of her own personal belongings including her own collection of books and magazines to childhood photographs. Kusama also keeps photocopies of her auction sales within her studio as well. Stacks of her large-scale brightly coloured paints are organised around her studio. The majority of images from Kusama working in a studio shows her sitting in front of a large table with her canvas laid flat in front of her. Kusama now needs to sit while she creates her art because of her age but using a chair with wheels she’s able to quickly move and continue to work on her art from all angles. From photographs, large windows can be seen allowing large amounts of natural light to flood her studio. The feeling Kusama’s studio gives me is that it is very personal to her and is able to reflect her own personality to anyone walking through.
In 2017 Vice’s Dexter Thomas was banned from entering Kusama’s studio(1). Thomas was banned as Kusama had problems understanding his questions and reached the conclusion “[Thomas] did not understand her work”. It is also hinted within the article that Thomas was not allowed to come into contact with Kusama because of her unstable mental state and that she might have felt too uncomfortable to even finish the interview. This was very interesting to me as it made me consider if an artist’s studio could be considered their “safe space”. The more comfortable an artist feels in their studio the more venerable they are able to be with their work.
“My art is an expression of my life, particularly my mental illness.”Yayoi Kusama
Being a fan of Kusama’s art for many years I found it very inspiring to look at her studio space. It was very interesting to see that even an artist I have idolised so much still has to start with a blank canvas in an ’empty’ room. It motivated me to fully take advance of the studio space I have been given and I would like to fill that space with my own pieces of work much like Kusama has done in her own studio.
(1) – https://www.vice.com/en/article/ywnqxx/japans-most-famous-avant-garde-artist-banned-us-from-her-studio