GTG Workshop: Draw like Yayoi Kusama with Chloe Morrison


Today’s brand new GTG Workshop explores the fantastical, colourful art of iconic Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. She is known as the ‘princess of polka dots’, because although she makes many different kinds of art, from sculpture, installation, paintings and drawings, they always feature lots and lots and LOTS of dots!



Kusama was born in Japan in 1929, and while she was still a child she began to experience vivid hallucinations which included vast fields of flowers like dots. The very earliest work that she made using dots was a drawing of a Japanese woman in a kimono, believed to be her mother, covered by dots – created when Kusama was only 10 years old.

She moved to America in the 1950s and became an important part of the avant-garde movement in New York. She was very productive over the next decade but because of widespread sexism in the art world, she struggled to gain widespread recognition and success. Kusama also had to watch some male artists get success and acclaim from copying her ideas – including Andy Warhol! Understandably, this was extremely frustrating and depressing for Kusama, and she moved back to Japan and didn’t make any new art for several years.

But in the late 1970’s she returned to making art from her new home in a hospital in Japan. Then in 1989 a very important exhibition looking back at her work and her huge influence on other artists was held in New York at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, organised by curator Alexandra Munroe which helped to bring Yayoi Kusama’s work back into the spotlight.


Yayoi Kusama at work in her studio, in front of her painting The Moving Moment When I Went to the Universe. Photograph: Yayoi Kusama Studio

Now, Yayoi Kusama she is now the world’s biggest-selling female artist, her work is instantly recognisable worldwide, and an entire museum dedicated to her art opened in Tokyo in 2017! And she still uses DOTS!

Singapore Biennale on Orchard Road, Singapore August 2006, by Sengkang used under Creative Commons

GTG Workshops are funded by Community Foundation NI.