Yayoi Kusama’s lifelong search has been to explore styles and media for expressing the infinite and her painting Star of the Night TSAOW shares this characteristic with her broader oeuvre. Here, Kusama explores a new way to intensify her use of her famous pattern. She has traded her colorful background for an intense black space in which psychedelic dots seem to pulsate.
The deep black seems to recall the universe and its dark emptiness. But this physical and psychological void is counterbalanced by bright stars meticulously constructed of 5 different sizes and colors. As the viewer dives into the canvas, the painting loses its flatness and becomes endlessly deep; the large dots appear to be directly in front of us while the smallest ones seem to fade into the empty, dark void of the universe. The small colorful dots appear like multiple vanishing points, dragging us to different spaces while we are pushed back by the larger ones. The juxtaposition of warm and cool colors reflects this visual back and forth in space. Some stars are stopping our gaze upfront while others invite the eye even deeper into the canvas. The viewers’ attention jumps from one to the other, sometimes pushed away, sometimes pulled in; shapes, sizes and colors dilate the space, giving it an elastic quality.
The very large canvas increases the resonance of the work: as the viewer is dragged into the painting, paint seems to spread out of the canvases boundaries to extend further apart and envelop the spectator into Kusama’s creation, deep into the metaphysical universe of her mind. In this respect, Star of the Night TSAOW conveys the same sense of sublime that is rampant throughout her oeuvre. Yayoi Kusama has been subject to hallucination throughout her life. Her compulsive creations have served as her medicine as well as a way to make tangible her own visions and sensitive world. In the same way that she obliterates the limitation of the physical and metaphysical worlds, she invites us into her own mind. It is therefore a logical consequence that she does not offer any difference or limit between her mind and the canvas. She conveys the sense that the mind and the universe are a whole, a continuous spectrum of light and shapes, and she invites the viewers to experience it with her. Her painting is like a door to the infinite space to which imagination does not extend. She manages to unite into one piece the inside world of her consciousness and representation of the infinite with the outside physical world.
As our eyes wander in space and on the canvas, colors and shapes seem to resonate with one other, and this vibration produces dots of light that appear on the black surface. Our vision becomes slightly but perceptibly affected by the intensity of her polka dots: she makes tangible the experience of one’s closing their eyes after looking at a bright light: vanishing dots of indistinct colors suddenly appearing on a dark infinite background. Here again, the boundaries between mind and sight seem to disappear. Yayoi Kusama has always emphasized the importance of self-obliteration in her work: she seeks to lose herself in the act of creating. In this particular work, she invites us to experience it first-hand.
Her vision of infinity, which has successfully transcended time, space, generation, gender and culture, has made Yayoi Kusama one of the leading avant-garde artists for over 50 years.