Featured Image courtesy of Laurence King Publishing.

Italian artist Elisa Macellari brings comic readers into the complex life of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama with the graphic novel “Kusama”. Thanks to Laurence King Publishing, the book is available in English.

Yayoi Kusama gained worldwide recognition for her Infinity Rooms and polka dot installations. However, it was a struggle of both within and outside of her to continue making art. The artist dealt with hallucinations since she was a young girl in 1930’s Matsumoto, Japan and also going against patriarchal traditions from both Japanese and Western culture. She faced many oppositions and setbacks but still pursued to bring the things that plagued her into tangible form. 

The book is an interesting mix of prose and panels as Macellari writes an introduction to readers explaining her fascination with the Japanese artist. She then illustrates the difficult life of Kusama but presents them in a gentle way without using harsh colors. She emulates Kusama’s use of patterns and space by both recreating scenes of the artist’s works and mental imagery.  While many would want to learn more about Kusama’s past, the graphic novel contains several scenes with sexual content and psychological trauma. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Macellari references the film “Kusama – Infinity”, a documentary from filmmaker Heather Lenz that we reviewed back in 2018. For those wanting to learn more about Kusama should definitely watch it to see more from her past and hear from the artist herself. Fans can also visit her website for the latest updates which are available in English. Check out Elisa Macellani’s website for more on her works including other graphic novels.