Yayoi Kusama: I Love ME - NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Vol. 2
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Yayoi Kusama: I Love ME - NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Vol. 2
As the second volume of the New People Artist Series, this documentary features the avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, whose love of polka dots and nets is well recognized throughout the international art world. This film captures Kusama’s creative process as she diligently works to complete her new series of 50 large monochrome drawings. As her work comes to life, one can witness the essence of her art as it wells up in the conflict between life, death, and love; sometimes quietly and sometimes just the opposite. Her firm self-confidence and dignified spirit combined with a year and a half worth of invaluable footage allows viewers to enter Kusama’s world with never a dull moment.]]>
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Here we are with the second volume of the New People Artist Series and this time we have Yayoi Kusama and this release is not just extraordinary, for fans of Japanese art, this is probably the only chance we can see the artist so up-close and personal.
Yayoi Kusama is an avant-garde artist known for her polka dots, her trademark and it's been a big part of her work since the 1950's and now in her 80's, she still continues her artwork with no signs of stopping. The polka dots are "infinity nets" which describe her hallucinations that come from her life in which she was abused by her mother (who despised her getting into artwork but mostly because her father was a philanderer and her mother expected her to keep tabs on her father's infidelity). She's also an artist that has suffered from major depression and has attempted suicide several times and has said numerous times that all she has had in her life is her artwork (note: Kusama chooses to live at a mental hospital near her place of work and she has staff watching over her as well).
But if there is one thing that Kusama is known for is her dedication and passion for her artwork. Kusama is probably better known to art fans internationally as she was a leader in the avant-garde movement, as an organizer of controversial events in Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the Vietnam War. Her artwork was rejected back then Japan and she moved to New York where she collaborated with her friends Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, Joseph Cornell, Donald Judd and many more.
There is so much demand for her work to be featured at galleries around the world and on Nov. 2008, her artwork sold for over $5 million at Christies New York, a record for a living female artist.
With "New People Artist Series 002: Yayoi Kusama - I Love Me", where Kusama has been featured in various art films covering her life, this latest DVD is a project by Director Takako Matsumoto. Matsumoto met Yayoi at a television program that she directed and then worked with her for a special titled "Kusama Yayoi , Fantastic Voyage into Darkness Within". But with this latest project, Matsumoto wanted to show in the documentary Yayoi at work and depicting her everyday life but to reveal as many layers of the artist as much as possible. The question was, could Matsumoto even get that close to cover those layers of this well-known artist.
The documentary showcases Kusama working on 50 pieces of her artwork, we see sculptures of her polka dots, we see her attending various events including a TV show hosted by Takeshi Kitano (who she has never watched before). But we also see how her staff tends to her, we see how in her 80's, she feels that she still has enough life in her to create her artwork and feels that she is not done yet. As she was when she was a child making dozens to hundreds of artwork per day, we see Kusama still creating many artwork but also featuring her poetry but most of all seeing a side of her, from her confidence of being one of the best artists out there but also talking about her recent suicide attempts.
Matsumoto does say that this film is just a small part of Yayoi Kusama and that is true. There is so much to this artist and what she has accomplished that Matsumoto just focused on not so much about the past but the moment she had with Kusama during that period in time.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
""New People Artist Series 002: Yayoi Kusama - I Love Me" is a documentary featured in 4:3 Anamorphic Widescreen. For a documentary, picture quality is a clear and colorful look into the artist's world as it is shot in digital. Audio is in Dolby Digital and dialogue is heard clearly and English subtitles are easy to read.
"New People Artist Series 002: Yayoi Kusama - I Love Me" comes with no special features but trailers for upcoming New People Artist Series and a four-page insert is included. Inside is a two-page writeup from director Takako Matsumoto of what she wanted to accomplish and what happened after she shown the documentary to Yayoi Kusama.
For fans of Yayoi Kusama's work, this is another video that is worth owning. Granted, there are several films of Kusama at various times of her life (especially during the late 60's and early 70's) which are magnificent. But this video, captures Yayoi Kusama ala 2008 in her 80's.
As many artists are, there is only so much you can capture them on camera without trying to annoy them and in "New People Artist Series 002: Yayoi Kusama - I Love Me", we see Yayoi in her various forms. From her confidence of her talking about how she is the best, looking through magazines and saying that her artwork was the best in the publication and her meeting with people from various countries wanting to do business with her and seeing her communicate in English and then seeing her just wanting to create artwork. In fact, we see her create several pieces of art that are part of her 50 that are shown at the end of the documentary.
But the documentary accomplishes what director Takako Matsumoto wanted, was to peel off those layers and try to get to the core of Yayoi Kusama. We see a woman who is very eloquent in her words but the words, may they be about her after she has passed to what she wants her work to be seen as and what she wanted to accomplish. We see her wishing that she was much younger and the look in her eyes as Matsumoto tells her how it's great for an artist to create art in her older age and this stare she gives back and telling her that she's doesn't see herself as "old". In fact, there are times we see Kusama getting annoyed at the director and telling her that she's getting in the way of her focus on her artwork and to leave.
But we also see the side of Kusama that many have read about...the depressed side. And Kusama has no problems telling her story about her father, her mother and the disdain her mother had towards her artwork and even talking about her suicide attempts at a young age to her most recent attempt. There is not so much focus on the darker side in this documentary but Kusama does bring it up. If anything, all she needs to communicate or viewers understand is through her artwork and poetry.
Overall, this is another wonderful DVD in the New People Artist Series. Although, I wished the documentary would have shown part of her creative past, I can understand that director Matsumoto just wanted to focus on the now. To cover Kusama's past would be too difficult. So, Matsumo's goal of depicting Kusama's everyday life was quite interesting. I've seen videos of her from her younger years and as she has progressed from the 60's through 90's but this is a side of Kusama that I have never seen before. In some way, seeing her with so much vitality at 80 continuing to produce new art every day but then seeing that frail side of her as she has difficulty walking and her staff has to rub her back while walking because she has back pain. Many artist have refused to let viewers see them at their oldest of age and just remember them when they are younger but even at 80, Kusama still feels she still has many years left in her and as evident through this documentary, she can still produce incredible work daily.
A wonderful documentary and another awesome release in the New People Artist Series. Highly recommended!