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Yayoi Kusuma
Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Yayoi Kusama is fighting back against rip-offs of her work

There are multiple shows in China showing entirely fake exhibitions using the revered Japanese artist’s name

Yayoi Kusama, the revolutionary Japanese artist known for her eccentric sculptures, paintings and performance art, has been copied and referenced heavily across her 50-plus year career, from Andy Warhol to bizarre Instagrammy museum spots. Now though, Kusama is considering legal action against multiple art exhibitions in China showing fake artworks.

According to the Guardian, fake pieces credited to Kusama and another Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, were shown in at least six Chinese cities this year. Though most of the exhibitions were shown to the public for free, one exhibit in Changsha charged around £7 for admission. The Changsha show is still open to view. One show has already been shut down in Shanghai following threats from Kusama’s team. 

The exhibitions featured fake versions of Kusama’s famous polka-dot installations.

The Yayoi Kusama Foundation confirmed all of the exhibitions in China used forged works without her permission. “Such actions are a serious infringement of the artist’s copyright and international fame and brand and harm the interests of the foundation,” a statement said. “These dishonest acts are a violation of public morals and decency of a notably malicious nature, and are a contemptible transgression of the originality and copyrights of all artists. We therefore strongly condemn these actions.” 

As NHK reports, lawyers for Kusama are in the process of identifying who organized the fraud exhibits, and they intend to pursue criminal action for copyright.

If you want to see the real deal, London’s Victoria Miro gallery is currently showing Yayoi Kusama: THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE from October 3 to December 21. Kusama is debuting the Infinity Mirror Room “MY HEART IS DANCING INTO THE UNIVERSE”, which is filled with ornaments from Kusama’s childhood, paper lanterns and pumpkins.

A documentary exploring Kusama’s life, painful backstory, and groundbreaking art, Kusama: Infinity, is also out now.