Kusama's trademark pumpkin by which she is known the world over.

Kusama’s trademark pumpkin by which she is known the world over. All photos, with the exception of the Brisbane exhibition, are by Petya Campbell.

Editor’s note: For more information on the artist, please click on this new Artsy page with Kusama’s biography and more examples of her work. — Ed.

On Aug. 1, the Bonte Museum opened an exhibition of paintings and installation art by Yayoi Kusama titled “Dream in Jeju.” It was an exciting pleasure to be present. She is one of the most creative, well-respected and successful female artists in the world.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Kusama started drawing dots when she was 10 years old and even now — 74 years later — she has never stopped. She has struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and hallucinations since childhood, but she channels tremendous energy into spectacular and sensitive avant-garde production and display.

Kusama is Queen of the Dots. She paints them everywhere, on everything, on walls, an amazing variety of sculptures, entire apartment interiors and entire tall trees, naked bodies, buildings, her own fashion design, and on herself.

“Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots, earth, moon, sun, and human beings all represent dots, a single particle among billions.”

The exhibition feels like a celebration, and you feel like part of the myriad dots and lights, thousands upon thousands of them reflected in perfectly positioned mirrors like a kaleidoscope, a part of the cosmos.

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The floor is a pool of water reflecting what the mirrors reflect. Fantastic. One of the exhibits consists of a white room with totally white furnishing; the flowers, even the black keys on the piano are painted white. Visitors are given multi-color polka dot stickers and invited to attach them, wherever.

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'Obliteration Room' at the Jeju exhibition

‘Obliteration Room’ at the Jeju exhibition

By the afternoon of opening day the starkness had mellowed with a seeding of color. Since the visitor dotting will continue until the exhibition closes Dec. 15, I think we can expect the room to resemble what came to pass at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.

'Obliteration Room' at the Brisbane exhibition

‘Obliteration Room’ at the Brisbane exhibition

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Kusama invites us into her world and makes us step into something bigger than ourselves. She imbues us with feelings of hope, brightness, peace, excitement and wonder.

“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.”

Kusama’s works as a painter, open-air sculptor, award-winning author and songwriter, movie producer and actress can easily be researched online, and not only are the images of what she has created absolutely mesmerizing but her personal history makes for interesting reading. She is one of the greats.


The Bonte Museum (www.bontemuseum.com) is in Sangcheon-ri, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo City. It is open from  10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

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