Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)

Infinity-Nets [BRST]

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Infinity-Nets [BRST]
signed, titled and dated 'INFINITY-NETS BRST YAYOI KUSAMA 2016' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
57 ¼ x 44 in. (145.5 x 112 cm.)
Painted in 2016.
Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
Private collection, Asia
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Infinity Nets [BRST] is a visually complex and deeply moving example of Yayoi Kusama’s ongoing Infinity Net series. Though Kusama’s oeuvre is undoubtedly robust, the works produced the series, dating back to its origins in 1959, are amongst the most conceptually provocative. Created in 2016, this particular piece radiates a more monochromatic brillance that separates it from other Infinity Net paintings. Through Infinity Nets [BRST], Kusama—the steadfast, forward thinking feminist and abstract extraordinaire—again illustrates her ability to transform her canvas into a topographic net, resembling an ocean where the horizon is expansive and nonexistent.
Infinity Nets [BRST] possesses a transcendental and geographical quality. Circular shapes emanate in all directions, causing the eye to move delicately within the work itself. Like the skin of a California King Snake, black and white forms are juxtaposed in a gradient, creating a sense of luminosity atop the shimmering, sequined surface. Infinity Nets [BRST] invites open-mindedness, granting viewers the ability to contemplate the ways in which they move with the work and where the work takes their mind.
This particular piece is a departure from other works within the series—notably Infinity Nets (QPOW) from 2007 and Infinity Nets (TWPPQ) from 2008, which feature a subtler, more uniform relationship between the dots and cell-like clusters. This difference is particularly apparent in Infinity Nets [BRST] where the dots and cell-like clusters are no longer uniform, nor evenly sized and spaced. Rather, all elements are in motion, pulsating and evolving in a symphonic and exquisite manner. The rectilinear composition of the canvas seemingly confines the forms within its four corners, anchoring the beautiful, rippling chaos. One can envision the forms breaking free from the bounds of the canvas, released and uninhibited, expanding off into the universe to veil its surroundings in a cloud-like haze. Unlike the oeuvre of any other twenty-first century artist, Kusama’s work possesses a distinct quality of limitless potential.
The artist has described her ferocious process of painting as an experience of forces physically beyond her control. In her characteristically intricate and laborious process, Kusama would sometimes find herself painting for forty hours at a time without any rest: “I felt as if I were driving on the highways or carried on an [endless] conveyor belt …to my death. . . This is like continuing to drink thousands of cups of coffee or eating thousands of feet of macaroni. This is to continue to desire and to escape all sorts of feelings and visions until the end of my days whether I want to or not…” (L. Hoptman, Yayoi Kusama, London, 2000, p. 37).
Now in her 90s, Kusama continues to be an extremely prolific artist of the twenty-first century, renowned for being the greatest selling female artist in the world. In addition to painting, she is a master of sculpture and installation, creating abstractions with polka dots, phallic shapes, and mailing stickers. Mirroring the success of her Infinity Net paintings, she has shattered all expectations of the female artist’s role in society since leaving Japan and moving to New York in 1958, a time when the male- dominated atmosphere of Abstract Expressionism was at its height. Like many other female artists of her time, Kusama experienced frustration when male artists gained more recognition for their work over hers. However, renowned artists such as Donald Judd took great interest in Kusama’s practice and recognized that she was at the cusp of inventing a new kind of expression and artistic movement.
Though she has lived with a mental illness her entire life, Kusama never relinquished control of her career, not even to a disorder that encapsulates her very existence as a human being. Though her hallucinations affect her living situation, they have never diminished her artistic motivations, inspirations, and passions. Rather, the artist has championed her illness, leveraging her symptoms to develop brilliance. She has traced the Infinity Nets and the polka dot motifs back to a specific set of hallucinations she initially experienced when she was ten years old: “One day, looking at a red flower-patterned table cloth on the table, I turned my eyes to the ceiling and saw the same red flower pattern everywhere, even on the window glass and posts. The room, my body, the entire universe was filled with it, my self was eliminated and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute space. This was not an illusion but reality…A feeling of particles disintegrating and reverberations from an invisible universe…” (L. Hoptman, Yayoi Kusama, London, 2000, p. 35, 37). Kusama’s hallucinations and mental illness are like the engine to the grander machine that drives her creativity and artistic masterpieces. Her disorder is deeply entwined with the forms she creates, informing the subject matter of her work. Infinity Nets [BRST] typifies Kusama’s practice, illustrating her ability to create brilliance and conjure a seemingly impossible sense of infinity.

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