Over her long and prolific career the infinity net pattern has become a metonymic identity for Kusama herself. Plagued by neurosis since she was a child, Kusama first began painting infinity nets as images of her hallucinations and the apparent “veil” of dots that formed halos before her eyes and eclipsed her sight. Thus the infinity net pattern began as a compulsory release and reflection of her emotional psychology. Throughout the years, however, the nets have ceased to merely represent Kusama; now, the pattern has wholly absorbed Kusama. A natural, effortless osmosis has taken place, fusing symbol and artist into an inseparable identity and insoluble solution.
Kusama grew up in Matsumoto City, Japan, while the nation was at war. During her youth in Japan, she began to experience hallucinations that would eventually evolve into a lifelong mental illness that became the powerful engine behind her astonishing productivity and a main theme of her art. When Kusama moved to the United States in the late 1950s and emerged on the New York art scene during the 1960s, one can imagine the young artist’s instinct to contextualise and align her work within the artistic developments of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism. However, rather than attempting to narrow or cater her style to any one of these emerging movements during the sixties, Kusama remained zealous and true to her own genius. To this day her work remains deeply intimate, born of her own psyche and irrevocably intertwined with her personal expression.
At the time when Nets 8 was executed, Kusama had gone back to Japan, where she has lived and worked since the 1970s. Since then a milieu of biomorphic forms have entered and populated the artist’s universe; Infinity Nets unfolding and growing into endless fields of dots, pumpkins, eyes and teeth making their way into her canvasses. All of these shapes, however, are tightly connected to Kusama’s own vocabulary from the 1950s. Trained classically in Nihonga technique, the artist’s early work is inhabited by cell like structures, flowers and other shapes reminiscent of living organisms, as well a proto-net compositions that anticipate her most iconic body of work. Throughout her entire oeuvre, however, the artist shows an acute awareness of our place as humans in the universe. As the artist would put it: “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 infinite 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 millions” (Yayoi Kusama, trans. Ralph McCarthy, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London 2011, p. 23).
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