'The layers of dry white paint, which result from a single touch of the brush repeated tirelessly over time, lend specificity to the infinity of space within an extraordinary mundane visual field'
(Y. Kusama, quoted in Yayoi Kusama, exh. cat. Tate Modern, London, 2012, p. 179).
Delicately intertwining lace-like painting with swathes of impasto Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Nets (T.W.A) is a monumental example from the artist's series of the same name began in the 1960s. Her painstaking application of paint becomes the work's defining quality; meticulous and repetitive swirls of paint undulate across the canvas with a varying and hypnotic intensity. Expanding across the vast surface of Infinity Nets (T.W.A), waves of dappled white paint create a pulsating pattern over the achromatic sea. The white filigree is repeatedly overlaid so that the paint imparts a cadenced pattern of light and shade. Extending beyond the purely formalist, the purity and light-intensity of the bright white paint begins to pulse with energy causing one's perception of figure and ground to fluctuate. Enveloping the viewer in a shimmering web, the poetic resonance of Kusama's singular and uncompromising vision can be seen in the rhythmic formations. Sending the eye on a frenetic journey of discovery, larger, more dramatic swoops transform themselves into smaller, intensely knitted areas that ostensibly twist and turn with every stroke of the brush.
Kusama traces the roots of her unique style back to her traumatic childhood when she began to experience a specific series of hallucinations. As Kusama recalled, 'when I was a child, one day I was walking the field, then all of a sudden, the sky became bright over the mountains, and I saw clearly the very image I was about to paint appear in the sky. I also saw violets which I was painting multiply to cover the doors, windows and even my body. It was then I learned the idea of self-obliteration. I immediately transferred the idea onto a canvas. It was hallucination only the mentally ill can experience' (Y. Kusama, quoted in Y. Kusama: Now, exh. cat., Robert Miller Gallery, New York, 1998, p. 15). To achieve this obsessive effect, Kusama applies a semi-transparent layer of white pigment over an under layer of black, gradually adding more strokes of white paint over the top, repeating the process over and over again. Using an approach that can be seen as opposite to the emotional space of Action painting, to construct her Infinity Nets paintings Kusama fixes a single, undivided space on the canvas in order to ensure that each individual element of the work is given as much physical structure as possible. Through the repetitive act of creation with the layers of white paint, the pigment itself endows the space in the middle with concrete form. Abandoning a single fixed focal point, these works are thus rendered compositionally ahierarchical. Kusama normally works with the canvas placed flat on a table top or other surface, making it impossible to see the whole of the composition while she is working. In doing so, Kusama is unable to respond to or alter the composition of the work as it is being created. By working in this way, she is forced to abandon any attempt to try and control the whole of the picture plane or construct it out of parts.