In the 1940s and 1950s, mental health issues were often ignored. A Japanese artist named Kusama heard voices, had panic attacks, and suffered from hallucinations. Why? It is a chicken and an egg question. Did Kusama’s mental health issues drive her mother to be strict? Or did her mother’s harsh discipline cause Kusama’s mental health issues?

Regardless, Kusama’s tale is an inspiring tale of resilience. She actually used her obsessive compulsive disorder to create incredible detailed paintings using dots. Sort of large, very large, scale pointillism, at least at first. She was one of the first female Japanese artists on the modern pop-art scene. She was a contemporary of Andy Warhol. Remarkable, she is still alive living in Japan.

As Kusama finds her style, the artwork in book begins to move toward it too. There are some rather explicit Happenings including LGBT scenes in the second half making this book inappropriate for children. Otherwise, it is an interesting look into someone’s productive life even while dealing with mental illness. 4 stars!

Thanks to Laurence King Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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