If ever the art world had skeletons in its closet it would be the story that’s presented in Heather Lenz’ documentary, KUSAMA: INFINITY. Following the journey of one of the most renowned female artists in modern art. Yayoi Kusama’s artistic expression was well ahead of its time and only continued to thrive after being ostracized in a male dominated art landscape where ethnic minorities were few and non-existent.
It’s a story plagued with family discord, mental health, social rejection recounting the 89 year old’s vision to pursue her passion after moving to the United States in the 1950s. It’s important to understand the political context here in an era pre-women’s liberation and multiculturalism. A sculptor, painter and performance artists many of the ideas she presented at this time were viewed to be quite radical. Protest pieces against the Vietnam War, the election of Richard Nixon and even the staging of a same-sex wedding were so radical it alienated her from the art community. For 41 years she lived voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital and in the documentary gives an honest account of her personal struggles with mental health.
For all the quirkiness and recounting of stories that would rival the most outrageous of soap operas, form these experiences were born the ideas behind some of the world’s most expensive pieces of art. One of her pumpkin sculptures has sold for $500,000, and one of her watercolor canvases for $7.1million. A triumph that was long overdue after decades of being ignored and not taken seriously, but what’s most endearing is these commercial gains mean nothing to her as her art is purely to create a sense of wonder and bring peace to the world she says.
One of the most interesting characters to hit the big screen this year, what’s most captivating about this 76 minute film is how the art she creates has been her way of dealing with the world. The topics and obstacles that we’re taken through will have such a wide appeal and relateability that goes beyond the confines of the art circles.
https://www.madmanfilms.com.au/kusama/ showing from Boxing Day at Dendy Newtown