Although Yayoi Kusama produced her Infinity Nets in a range of different colors, red was the one she returned to again and again. For Kusama the color held unique qualities that resonated with her both on an artistic and personal level and enabled her to produce a work of incredible power and intensity.
Red had a particular significance for Kusama because, according to Japanese folk tradition, it is the color for expelling demons and illness. As a young woman Kusama had been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder after suffering years of powerful hallucinations in which she would see the world covered in a series of vivid net-like patterns. 'My room, my body, the entire universe was filled with [patterns], my self was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space. This was not an allusion but reality' (quoted in Yayoi Kusama, New York, 2000, p.36).
These demons lead her to paint obsessively, sometimes for forty or fifty hours without a break. Kusama insisted that the process of creating the Infinity Nets was integral to the works themselves. She recalled her early experiences in New York as being very difficult, saying that, 'day after day I forgot my coldness and hunger by painting.' Yet through both physical and psychological hardship, Kusama maintained a spiritual element in her painting. As she explained, 'By obliterating one's individual self, one returns to the infinite universe' (quoted in G. Turner, "Yayoi Kusama," Bomb, v. 66, Winter 1999).
Kusama executed her Infinity Nets in a variety of colors including green, yellow and blue but it is her red versions that fully resonate with the intensity of their execution. Not only did they replicate her Mothers red table cloth which Kusama claimed had started off her hallucinations but they also matched the fiery energy of the artists working methods. The deep red enhances Kusamas blurring of the line between illusion and reality. At first glance, the impasto imparts a sense of solidity, but over time the plane that peeks through openings in the red net of paint recedes, suggesting a net that veils a deeper void. Moreover, Kusama's subtle variations in the impasto create patterns within the all-over field of dots, which coalesce and drift as one's eyes meander across the painting's wide expanse.