After arriving in New York in 1958, Yayoi Kusama immediately integrated herself into New York's avant-garde art scene making a name for herself through the creation of her Infinity Net paintings in which her intricate brush stokes create lace-like designs that have an almost hypnotic effect on the viewer. These paintings marked a departure from Abstract Expressionism, the dominant movement in New York in the 1950's that embodied gestural, dynamic, all-over paintings created by artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Although Kusama desired to break free from Abstract Expressionism's aesthetic, she still incorporated the all-over style into her own work, commonly covering the entire surface of the canvas, and later entire objects and rooms.
Executed in 2008, Kusama in the present work revisits the theme of infinity through a subject matter and style that consistently resurfaces in her oeuvre. Infinity-Nets OOAXT is an exemplary testament to her exacting and meditative working method of obsessively painting small circular shapes covering the canvas. She spends hours creating a single painting, working in a series of layers to create a textural weaving effect as she slowly makes her way across the canvas. Working against a dark ground Kusama applies red paint to the canvas creating the illusion of a void as the deep ground is exposed at the center of the small circles. Through this process a net-like effect appears, suggesting an infinite abyss. Although looking serene from a distance, when viewing the painting close to the surface, Kusama's process strongly resonates as the dense red and purple hues engulf the viewer. Robert Nickas stated, "You don't merely look upon her paintings, you immerse yourself within them." (R. Nickas, Yayoi Kusama, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, p. 88). The encapsulation of the viewer is an intention derived from Kusama's own entrapment when experiencing hallucinatory visions since the age of 10 during which dots, flowers, and other various patterns cover her surroundings.
In time, the dots became her trademark motif and eventually left the canvas and began to cover a variety of surfaces including floors, walls, and objects. Kusama stated in 1964, "My nets grew beyond myself and beyond the canvases I was covering with them. They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe." (Y. Kusama, quoted in Yayoi Kusama, p. 103). Throughout her fifty-year career, her work has had a strong international presence. In addition to representing Japan in both the 1966 and 1993 Venice Biennales, her work has also been exhibited in numerous museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The National Museum of Modern Art, Toyko, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museo Centro de Arte, Madrid. In 2012-2013 Kusama was also the subject of a major international retrospective that was organized by Tate Modern, London, which then traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.