“You might say that I came under the spell of repetition and aggregation. 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. I was always standing at the center of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me.”
P ulsating and dancing with rhythmic motion, INFINITY-NETS (TWXOB) from 2014 is testament to Yayoi Kusama’s captivating mastery of spatial abstraction from the artist’s most celebrated body of paintings which established her position as one of the most influential living artists. Exemplifying Kusama’s iconic approach to abstraction, the present work depicts an endless maze of oscillating, kaleidoscopic clusters made up of intricately undulating pinks, reds, and white lines atop an electrifying black ground. Executed in 2014, the present work continues the legacy of Kusama’s iconic series of Infinity Nets, employing the same repetitive and hypnotic mark-making that functions as the conceptual nexus of the artist’s obsession and unconscious, ultimately culminating in a canvas of peak visual and psychological intensity.
In INFINITY-NETS (TWXOB), Kusama’s restricted palette imparts a sense of ethereality onto the canvas. The surface is vaporous, texturally anomalous and bursting with depth. The artist’s labyrinthine web of mesmeric pigment loops display irrepressible force, drawing the viewer irresistibly towards the intimate spaces contained within the tightly woven blanket of paint. The flowing, almost topographical surface of the work hypnotically meanders across the extent of the picture plane, mirroring the process in which it is created. Kusama’s innumerable brushstrokes pile onto one another, culminating in mounds of expressive form and radiating planes of pigment. Each dab of paint is laid with a punctilious devotion to the act of mark-making, subsuming the entire surface into a field of texture. For all the flurry of countless brushstrokes across this square canvas, with its elegant palette and intricate construction, the work remains entirely serene and utterly spellbinding to the artist and viewer alike.
The Infinity Nets have been a constant throughout the artist’s celebrated and diverse oeuvre, first created in her arrival in New York in the late 1950s. Her early vision can be linked to Abstract Expressionist traditions as her work also permeated a spiritual dimension and utilized all-over compositions. Kusama’s personal hallucinatory visions, from which she had suffered as a child, inspired her compositions that led to her obsession with infinity and blurring the boundaries between illusion and reality. Recounting the first of these visions, Kusama reveals: “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." (Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, n.p.)
“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.”
Other examples of Kusama’s iconic Infinity Nets reside in the important permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rubell Museum, Miami; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Städel Museum, Frankfurt; and Artizon Museum, Tokyo.
Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets in Prominent Institutional Collections
With a process of creation both meditative and obsessive, INFINITY-NETS (TWXOB) demonstrates Kusama’s critical response to the emotionally and semiotically charged brushstrokes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In works such as the present, Kusama radically redefines the nature of abstract painting in bold defiance of gestural abstraction, meting out the masochistic and muscular gesture of movements past into dainty increments to forge a delicate aesthetic entirely her own. While it retains the pared down aesthetic of Minimalist painting, the present work lacks the movement’s characteristically harsh, impersonal tone: here, Kusama invites viewers to experience a taste of the hallucinatory visions that plague her psyche. Exuding a spell-biding aura of abstract specificity, INFINITY-NETS (TWXOB) achieves an infinitely self-perpetuating momentum that engulfs and overwhelms even as it entrances and enthralls.