Arts & Culture

An Interview With Critically Acclaimed Avant-Garde Artist Yayoi Kusama

The Japanese artist behind the iconic pumpkin sculptures opens up about her creative process.
IMAGE Flickr
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For more than five decades the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has, in addition to her world-famous paintings, drawings, and sculptures, created captivating “infinity mirror” rooms. These mirror-lined, light-festooned installations have been widely celebrated (a show in New York had a three-hour wait, and Adele used one as a backdrop in a video), and now six of them have been grouped together for “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” an ongoing exhibition at Washington, DC’s Hirshhorn Museum, on view until May 14. Here, Kusama—a voluntary resident of a Tokyo psychiatric hospital—opens up about her process for our peek inside the habits of a creative mastermind.

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How do you prepare yourself to be creative?
I head to the studio at a regular time every day, pick up brush and pen, and begin working.

What place do you find most conducive to work?
My studio, in the center of Tokyo. It’s quiet. I can concentrate.

What one element is absolutely necessary for your process?
The desire to create great artwork and to commit all my power to it.

What time of day do you prefer to work?
In the morning and on weekends, because the phone doesn’t ring and I can get more work done.

How do you take your coffee?
I don’t drink coffee.

Who’s your favorite collaborator?
Myself.

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What’s your best trick for overcoming a block?
To continue to draw or paint.

It’s said that genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. What is that ratio like for you?
I devote everything in order to realize my art.

What’s your dream project?
For my work to transcend national borders, generations, and time, and to reach people’s hearts around the world, and that my message of peace and love will be received.

What’s your favorite creation thus far?
I love everything. But at the moment I love the work that I made today the most.

What do you hope your creative legacy will be?
That my work will live on after my death, and that my way of life and message of love will be communicated and continue to shine.

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