The artist has often explained how her work is intimately tied with her own experience; using the repetitive gestures and iconic motifs that populate her canvasses - which have also found their way into sculpture, film, performance and even fashion - as a reaction to the hallucinations and obsessive-compulsive disorder that have affected her from a young age. Reminiscing about her experience as a young artist in New York, Kusama has explained how she “would cover a canvas with nets, then continue painting them on the table, on the floor, and finally on my own body. As I repeated this process over and over again, the nets began to expand to infinity. I forgot about myself as they enveloped me, clinging to my arms and legs and clothes and filling the entire room. I woke one morning to find the nets I had painted the previous day stuck to the windows. Marvelling at this, I went to touch them, and they crawled on and into the skin of my hands” (Yayoi Kusama cited in: Exh. Cat., Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Yayoi Kusama: In Infinity, 2015-17, p. 12).
At first, Kusama limited the palette she was using on her Nets to white, but as her reputation and success grew she started introducing new colours into her repertoire. In Infinity Nets (0902F) the artist used golden paint, which she had used in her Accumulation series but rarely appears on her canvases. Here, the artist’s use of gold reminds the viewer of Yves Klein’s use of this material on his Relief Eponges and Monogolds. Interestingly, Klein’s use of gold was partly influenced by his visit to Japan in 1952-53, where, besides perfecting his already deep knowledge of Judo and Buddhist philosophy, he had the opportunity to visit the country’s centenary temples and golden Buddha statues. Although the artists did not meet during Klein’s visit to Kusama’s home country, they would famously exhibit together in 1965 at the seminal Nul exhibition organised by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where Kusama donned a gold kimono at the opening.
In 1973, and after spending seventeen years in New York, Kusama returned to Japan. The following decade would be relatively quiet for the artist, who devoted herself to producing art and organising smaller-scaled exhibitions, far from the Happenings, films and installations she had participated in and produced throughout the 1960s in the United States. However, in 1993, the artist was chosen to represent Japan at the Forty-Fifth Venice Biennale, which heralded Kusama’s return as an established figure in the artworld. Belonging to Kusama’s mature period, Infinity Nets (0902F) clearly exhibits the confidence and dexterity with which the artist approaches her work. The gentle variations in texture and size within the network of small openings imbue the painting with a sense of ethereality, as if trying to emulate the movement of a sunflower field. Capturing the light in its flowing composition, here the eye is invited to wonder, mesmerized. Indeed, the present work powerfully achieves what the artist herself has described as her main intention when painting her Infinity Nets: “My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots – an accumulation of particles forming the negative spaces in the net. How deep was the mystery? Did infinities exist beyond our universe? In exploring these questions I wanted to examine the single dot that was my own life. One polka dot: a single particle among billions” (Op. cit., p. 23).
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