There is something uniquely wonderful and out of the ordinary about artists. They’re spirits as if they are butterflies just leaving their cocoon every time they create. Most who have never met artists never truly understand the creative process. I remembered watching a recent conversation with Kevin Costner where he talked about acting in general but also the creative process.
His description of the internal battles that an artist goes through to put out exceptional work was poignant. The ebb and flow in an artist’s brain is one that cannot be truly contextualized. As that is why most artists are called “mad” because the outside world cannot comprehend their way of thinking. In Elisa Macellari’s excellent Kusama, we meet Japan’s version of Van Gogh, a modern visionary whose dreamscapes the world only started to grasp.
We’re taken to 1939 Matsumoto, we meet a young Kusama, who is enjoying the outdoors. As her “third eye” is much more open to most as she hears voices within the flowers she lays next to, eventually even if the family dog starts talking to her. She understands instantly that it’s an out of body experience, she would start draw and paint so that she may be a vessel for her obsessions. And thus begins the vivid graphic biography of the Japanese icon. It charts her being embraced by the New York art scene in the 1960s and her eventual return home where she found further fame.
The graphic novel looks at the turmoil with her family and finding her voice in New York City where she signed her first contract with an art gallery. It also takes us through her art style as it grows and leads into what some consider “perverse,” leading to her experimentation in the 1960s and friendship with Andy Warhol. But, it’s her legacy the graphic novel leaves you with.
Overall, an excellent and ambitious retelling of this still enigmatic but important imaginative. The story by Elisa Macellari is hopeful and spectacular. The art by Macellari is gorgeous. Altogether a book that just scratches the surface why Kusama is so important aesthetics the world over.
Kusama is out in September 2020.
Story: Elisa Macellari Art: Elisa Macellari
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review