Big Surreal: Yayoi Kusama, Vivienne Westwood, Laura Grey ~ Part 2

Posted on 21 March 2012
By Emma Cowles
  • Share:

If you want your artistes to be slightly unhinged, like your Van Gogh’s and Caravaggio’s of this world, or dreamers in the style of the old Romantic poets, creating fantastic and whimsical extravagancies that no one else could make or dream-up, then look no further than Yayoi Kusama.

The life and work of Japan’s best known living artist, is one full of neurosis and obsession, and the 82 year old has been decorating the world with her uniquely weird and wonderful dotted creations for decades.

Her artwork has been a great release for her throughout her life during many of the more troubled periods, having suffered from mental illnesses since early childhood. She has readily admitted she would have committed suicide had it not been for her artwork.

But only now has the Tate Modern given her pride of place with a definitive retrospective exhibition, allowing her art to illuminate the psyche’s of London city dwellers.

How to describe the woman herself? In a nutshell, she’s an 82 year old diva with an electric red bob, whose clothing can only be explained by the words ‘David Bowie’, ‘in your face’, ‘dot-to-dot’ and ‘dress making kit’.

Her work has a hallucinatory intensity that transcends the mundanity of the rat race, and transports people to another world full of colour and an infinity of dots. All of which she paints and dots herself, painstakingly, for hours on end.

Entering the exhibit, you’re greeted by some huge, trademark polka-dot beach balls hanging from the ceiling. Eccentric? Slighty! This sense of lunacy progresses on to the ‘infinity mirrored room – filled with the brilliance of life’.

Step inside and you are transported into lucid surroundings, with multicoloured lights hanging from the ceiling which are mirrored infinitely with your own refection.

The installation is ‘inviting the viewer to suspend their sense of self’, and it achieves this end.

You all but forget the fact your washing machine’s broken and bills are sky rocketing, and you are once again transported into a world of vibrancy and autonomous self expression.

From one couture crazed grandma to another, creative madness is also rearing its colourful head in the fashion world, especially that of Dame Vivienne Westwood.

It seems this ‘funk fever’ is leaking its way into the catwalks; spreading the creative vibe from London, to Paris, to Milan.

Designers, too, are fed up of monotonous, colourless living, so are looking to spice things up a bit. The Dame has proclaimed that ‘conformist’ shoppers have left everyone looking the same.

She complains, ‘We are so conformist, nobody is thinking. We are all sucking up stuff, we have been trained to be consumers and we are all consuming far too much’.(A little ironic coming from a consumer’s wet dream, but still, the trend temptress has a point.)

Her spring collection is certainly ‘off the rails’, as is that of fellow designer Laura Grey’s exhibition.

Take a mo to search these females out online, and you’re greeted by fashion that’s very much harking back to our earlier, creatively expressive selves.

Balloons as headdresses, toy whistles as earrings and multicoloured paints on faces – could this be any more reminiscent of a children’s party? Next stop, Alice’s Wonderland!

So, what to take from all this? Let’s embrace the extreme and the absurd. Relish the world’s of these creative jesters, who take inspiration from childlike forms of expression, an aesthetic more suited to Peter Pans NeverLand.

Because truth be told, who doesn’t have the immature desire to daub themselves in poster paints, roll around in glitter and shout obscenities from the top of their lungs? It’s the way forward.

So all hail this new breed of creative entrepreneurs – vibrant, daring and frankly quite absurd. We’re all about ready to say take me to your leader. Your planet seems more fun.