YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)
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YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)

Infinity Nets (ACWRTO)

Details
YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)
Infinity Nets (ACWRTO)
signed, titled and dated 'ACWRTO INFINITY-NETS YAYOI KUSAMA 2013' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
63 7⁄8 x 63 7⁄8 in. (162.2 cm x 162.2 cm.)
Painted in 2013.
Provenance
OTA Fine Arts, Singapore
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2015

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Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of the 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated and I was restored, returned to infinity, to eternal time and absolute space.(Y. Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, n.p.).

Undoubtedly one of the world’s most celebrated living artists, Yayoi Kusama’s influential career has been a mainstay of the postwar and contemporary canon. Imbued with a singular vision that broke new ground in abstraction while remaining immensely personal in scope, the artist was praised by titans of American art from the very beginning, and has had an untold effect on the course of many major artistic revelations. Infinity Nets (ACWRTO) is a consummate example of Kusama’s signature motif and speaks to the re-evaluation and re-invigoration of her practice following a major New York retrospective in 1989. Along with the polka dot, the infinity nets have become an unmistakable mark of Kusama’s career and have found their way into every corner of visual culture. “Kusama is the Infinity Net and the polka dot, two interchangeable motifs that she adopted as her alter ego, her logo, her franchise and her weapon of incursion into the world at large. The countless artworks that she has produced and that carry Kusama’s nets and dots into the world, when seen as a whole are the mere results of a rigorously disciplined and single-minded performance that has lasted for almost fifty years” (L. Hoptman, cited in Yayoi Kusama: A Reckoning, London 2000, p. 14).

Optically dense and visually consuming, Infinity Nets (ACWRTO) is a hypnotic work of acrylic on canvas. Using a limited palette, Kusama has built a network of dots and loops that grow and undulate from edge to edge. Predominately rendered in a shade of fluorescent pink, the interconnected circles grow larger and smaller as the artist’s hand moves across the surface. Each loop surrounds a burning yellow dab of paint, and in the space between these elements, the dark green underpainting shows through. However, this is not a straightforward, orderly affair. Rather there are places within the canvas where the perceived uniformity is interrupted by variations caused by contrasting colors. These pairings in turn create shadow and space where only impasto acrylic exists.
The impetus for Kusama’s painting style came from the hallucinatory experiences she had as a child. Seeing the world covered in a steady pattern of dots or interlocking links, she used this as a focus within her work in an attempt to both cope with this reality and translate it for other viewers. Thinking back to her first experience of these visions, Kusama recounts: “One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated, and I was restored, returned to infinity, to eternal time and absolute space. This was not an illusion but reality itself. I was shocked to see to the depths of my soul. And my body was caught in that terrifying Infinity Net" (Y. Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, n.p.).

Kusama moved to New York in 1958, and it was there that she began her Infinity Nets series which piqued the interest of artists like Frank Stella and Donald Judd. The first pieces she showed were vast white canvases that, upon closer inspection, were not just color fields but monochromatic versions of her painted loops. Drawing in viewers with their intricacy, these first forays grew into the present example and continue to enthrall audiences. Works such as Infinity Nets (ACWRTO) engage the eye in the same way that Kusama creates them. Working on a horizontal surface instead of the traditional easel, she spends countless hours hovering over the work as she builds up each mass of repetitive strokes. Not being able to see the entire piece as she’s going, creating the net becomes an all-encompassing process that takes over her field of vision, much like the optical hallucinations that serve as their source. Returning to these meditations later in life, Kusama noted, "My nets grew beyond myself and beyond the canvases I was covering them with. They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe. I was always standing at the center of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me." (Y. Kusama, quoted in “Kusama interviewed by Gordon Brown, 1964” in L. Hoptman, ed., Yayoi Kusama, London 2000, p. 10). Coaxing the audience closer to the painted surface does something similar as the eyes flit between the optical illusions and find ripples and undulations within the two-dimensional construct. Within their woven strands, we glimpse the artist herself in conversation with the infinite.

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