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Infinity-Nets (OPQR)

Infinity-Nets (OPQR)
signed, titled and dated ‘Yayoi Kusama 2007 INFINITY-NETS OPQR’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
35 7⁄8 x 28 3⁄4in. (91 x 73cm.)
Painted in 2007
Victoria Miro, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
London, Victoria Miro, Yayoi Kusama, 2007-2008, p. 17 (illustrated in colour, p. 18).
Special notice
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Further details
This work is accompanied by a registration card issued by Yayoi Kusama Inc.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

With its dynamic, lacy webs of gold impasto woven over a deep black backdrop, the present work is an exquisite example of the Infinity Nets that are Yayoi Kusama’s defining painterly achievement. The metallic pigment is applied in countless small, looping strokes, which are far from mechanical in their repetition: rather than following any rigid system, they spiral out from various nodal centres across the canvas, creating an organic, all-consuming surface whose warp and weft appears to pulse and vibrate. To create these works Kusama paints obsessively, sometimes for forty or fifty hours at a time, in a process of meditative self-transcendence. While driven partly by the memory of phantasmagoric visions she suffered during her childhood, the Infinity Nets ultimately go beyond the biographical, evoking vast, unfathomable forces that lie outside the limits of human imagination. Infinity-Nets (OPQR) was created in 2007, shortly after Kusama was awarded the 2006 Praemium Imperiale for Painting, Japan’s most prestigious international art prize.

For more than six decades, Kusama’s mirages of endless cellular form—as well as the related polka dot—have swarmed over not only her paintings, but also her sculptures, her pioneering mirror installations, and even the nude bodies of participants in her infamous ‘happenings’ of the 1960s. The motifs stem from hallucinations that the artist suffered during her early childhood. Traumatised by a distressing emotional environment at home, she was struck by apparitions of proliferating dots, nets and flowers that threatened to swallow her whole world. It was at this same time, around the age of ten, that she resolved to become an artist. ‘My room, my body, the entire universe was filled with [patterns]’, she recalls; ‘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 illusion but reality’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in L. Hoptman and U. Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, New York 2000, p. 36). In the repetitious forms and techniques of her mature practice, Kusama retools these overwhelming patterns as a means of release: losing herself in the Infinity Nets, she finds a form of wondrous dissolution.

Kusama showed her first Infinity Nets in 1959 in New York, where she had arrived from Japan one year earlier. They were extraordinarily well-received, receiving early acclaim from the critic and Minimalist Donald Judd. ‘The expression transcends the question of whether it is Oriental or American’, he wrote. ‘Although it is something of both, certainly of such Americans as Rothko, Still and Newman, it is not at all a synthesis and is thoroughly independent’ (D. Judd, ‘Reviews and previews: new names this month’, Art News, October 1959, in Donald Judd Complete Writings 1959-1975, New York 2015, p. 2). Indeed, while these influential works bear comparison to the sublime, all-over surfaces of Abstract Expressionism—as well as to the accumulative, kinetic visual patterning of Zero artists like Günther Uecker, with whom Kusama shared several European exhibitions during the 1960s—they form part of an investigation that is entirely Kusama’s own. The Infinity Nets continue to animate her rich, esoteric practice well into the twenty-first century. In an endless, gleaming field suggestive at once of cosmic immensities and of the microscopic life of cells or atoms, Infinity-Nets (OPQR) merges ecstatically with the mysteries of the universe.

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