"One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room."
Over the years Kusama's work progressed onto photography and performance art. In 1967 she staged 'Body Festivals' and 'Anatomic Explosions'. These basically involved naked people and having polka dots painted on them until the police inevitably turned up. Numerous happening against the war involving naked people and public orgies followed. In the early 70s Kusama returned to Japan. She now lives in a mental institution and has her own private studio to create work.
Themes and motivations:
Kusama calls herself an "obsessional artist". Self-obsession permeates throughout Kusama's artwork as it all relates to her own attempts to come to terms with her psychological and mental condition. Her representation of phalluses depicts her fear of obsessive sexual motifs. Infinte repetitions (infinity nets), patterns and ubiquitous polka dots are her favourite motifs, which she explores through painting, collage, light installations and other forms.
"A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colourful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots can't stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become movement... Polka-dots are a way to infinity."
Her work became increasingly dematerialized and less obsessive-compulsive throughout her life, which attests the fact that she managed to use art as a form therapy for herself.
"Every time I have had a problem, I have confronted it with the ax of art."