‘Polka dots are tacky.’
For the fashion mainstream, this seems to be the general consensus these days. While its counterpart, the stripe–of all thicknesses and colours–has made a big comeback, adorning all sorts of garments and accessories in recent years, the polka dot has largely remained hidden or non-existent in terms of style inspiration.
So I was surprised to come across the fashionable polka-dot world of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, whose work is currently being shown at Australia’s Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Not only are her installations avant-garde, they’re also intriguing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on her style of polka dot use until I came across a quote from the artist herself, who identifies herself as an ‘obsessive artist.’ This is what makes her use of ‘the dot’ so compelling–taking something quite simple or even ‘tacky’ and being compulsive about it. It also turns out that Kusama has a fascinating personal history of mental illness and now reportedly voluntarily lives in a mental hospital in Tokyo for self-protection. More on this can be found on her Wikipedia profile and official website.
Still, there won’t be any polka dots in my wardrobe in 2010.