Profiles of two Japanese artists

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On her Tokyomango blog, Lisa Katayama profiled two fascinating Japanese artists I'd never heard of: Yayoi Kusama (L) and Mariko Mori (R).

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Kusama lives in a mental hospital near her studio in Tokyo because psychiatrists don't understand how her complex brain functions (she's obviously a genius). She turns 80 next year, but that hasn't stopped her momentum of obsessive, repetitive dot-drawing. Dot dot dot dot dot. That's what she sees, so that's what she draws. Abused as a child, suicidal as a teen, and plagued with OCD for the ensuing half century and beyond, she has often claimed that her objective in life is to obliterate herself and her world through art. The dots, Kusama has said, symbolize disease: she often covers herself in them, and when that's not enough, she covers museum walls, random objects, and public statues in them as well. Of course, her art is so famous and cool that nobody objects. Walking into a Kusama-dotted room really feels like walking into an alternate universe.


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Mori isn't afraid to combine aliens with Buddhas or to experiment with materials and concepts normally unheard of in the art world. She spent part of her thirties voyaging to historic sites across the world in a time-traveling alien pod. When she got back, she created the Wave UFO, a giant teardrop-shaped spaceship that shows visitors their brainwaves as projections on the wall while they sit in Technogel lounge chairs. "The past, present, and future exist in harmony in her work," says Stover. "It represents the space-ageyness of Japan."

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