Yayoi Kusama's life story is retold within the type of a graphic novel

The novel begins with a ten-year-old Kusama in the fields of her hometown Matsumoto, surrounded by talking flowers. The narrative follows the artist's decision to leave Japan, her fragile relationship with her parents, and the gradual evolution of her style and artistic approach over several decades.

Macellari also tells of Kusama's mental health problems by using her illustrations to express the artist's experiences with hallucinations, as well as the dark time Kusama went through after returning to Japan after 20 years in the United States and moving to a mental hospital .

In the introduction to the novel, Macellari writes about her fascination for the artist and how a retrospective in Madrid made her learn more about the artist's life, apart from her most famous pieces.

"I have tremendous empathy for her suffering and find the conversion of her mental disorders into a form of self-medication extraordinary as it reaches such beautiful heights," she adds.

Perhaps it's the glimpse into Kusama's struggles with her sanity, or the opportunity to visit parts of the artist's life that were previously removed from her famous polka dot and pumpkin artwork, but the novel feels surprisingly intimate.

Macellari's razor-sharp illustrations quickly move the story forward, while double-pages highlight moments when readers can pause and reflect. In an industry overflowing with large monographs of coffee table art, this seems like a far more exciting way to peek inside an artist.

Kusama: The Graphic Novel is published by Laurence King Publishing at a price of £ 14.99


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