Yayoi Kusama – ‘My Eternal Soul’
You can understand a lot about a person from their art. Whatever you assume might be true or not, but at that time, when you are in their exhibition, it is your realm not theirs. It is their container, but your filling. I don’t think that you are able to see art exactly like the artist intended to portray it unless you have the artist give you a personal tour! Even then, some of you still pours in.
My personal interpretation of Kusama’s ‘My Eternal Soul’.
Yayoi seems like a troubled soul. It was very hard for me to understand some of her work. In some, I did not know wether she intended to communicate something, or she was just drawing for the sake of drawing. Sometimes the portrait’s title did not really reflect what I saw, or what I tried hard to see; her intentions, after reading the title. Usually I try to inspect a portrait before reading the title, so that I see how I could interpret it without being tainted by the title. For certain portraits, titles narrows what you see.
It is without question that Yayoi passed through many periods of struggle, depression, sadness and hopelessness in her life. This might have stemmed from her loneliness or her being a misfit. However, she did not despise loneliness, on the contrary, she embraced it. “Art is better when living a solitary life”, She says.
She is a wonderer, who found happiness in dots and eyes. I felt as if she was saying that the eyes reflect what is in the heart.
Being moved by the atomic bomb, she condemns war and always wishes for eternal peace. However, her peace is devoid of people. It seems that her idea about heaven and peace includes nature only! To her beauty is not eternal [for humans], except for nature. I’m not sure about her relationship with religion, but she believes in the after life and that eternal peace and hope comes from “above”. As mentioned before, after passing through several episodes of sadness and depression, she was continually thinking about suicide, she might have also attempted. Suicide had many meanings to Yayoi, one of which is silencing oneself. She continually thinks about the spirit leaving the body. Despite her fear of death she finds it quite beautiful. For her, life is full of repeated episodes of suffering, coming in different forms, yet having the same outcome. When she dies, she likes to have the things that she loved most buried with her. She also seems to thinks that she might actually go to hell, but that might just be one portrait drawn during her dark days. She sees beauty in suicide, and thinks that its ritual is spectacular. She believes that god has no form and keeps thinking about heaven.
Yayoi tends to reference a broken heart in several of her portraits, she might have been heartbroken many times. She mentions that she showed a lot love that was not reciprocated, and even more love that was kept secret. “Love is destructive”. Her first love might have been a woman, which explains the many obstacles she had to face during. This lead her to give up on love. She finally argues that love is an illusion, she expresses it as if you put on glasses and see someone through them [See someone with new eyes].
When you see her face you can tell that she is keeping her emotions in check. The more eyes are on her, the more difficult it is for her to control her emotions. She is very self aware, some of her portraits even show people as a walking judgment. She thinks that illusions are all around us [coming from people], which is why she finds solace in nature. She portrays that the fruits of earth are humans but those of heaven are plants. She is definitely nostalgic about her youth, and the beauty she has lost. However, sometimes she wishes she was a man! That is because she would be able to express her anger better if she were. Some of her portraits show that crying is not there to indicate sadness only, but happiness as well. She always finds beauty in a genuine smile.
When she represents her own eyes, she portrays them differently than others. She represents her own eyes as non judgmental, while others’ are. Especially woman, some of her work show that woman are kind of evil.
Sometimes she wishes she was living in an animated world..
Yayoi Kusama is a person who questions everything, has a lot to offer and based on her self portrait, is all knowing.
I think she is a little autistic.
Here are some select pictures.