Yayoi Kusama, ‘Infinity Nets’, 1990, Phillips

Property of an Important Asian Collector

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Yayoi Kusama Studio.

From the Catalogue:
Generating a gripping optical sensation, the reverberating sequence of insistently hand-painted quadrilateral red shapes, emboldened by crisp white outlines, defines Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets, executed in 1990. From afar, the slight permutations of each link within the net breathe a vibrating energy into the overall composition. Upon closer examination, the hard pointed edges of the red shapes and white lines emphasise the calculated precision and geometric clarity of this work. Though Kusama completed this painting after moving from New York back to Tokyo, where she currently resides and works, the obsessively recurring pattern of interlocking forms retains the essential multiplicity of the single stroke exhibited throughout her critically acclaimed signature Net paintings first produced in the late 1950s.

Rooted in a series of visual and aural hallucinations experienced during Kusama’s early childhood, the kinetic forms in these net paintings stem from the artist’s obsession with the infinite as a means of releasing her psychosomatic anxiety. Kusama perceives her artistic process as a way of escaping her mind through boundless repetition and self-obliteration, as being both a visualisation of and a defense tactic against a psychological abyss. 'I guess I came under a spell,' Kusama explains, '…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 standing at the centre of this obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me' (Yayoi Kusama, 'Interview with Gordon Brown (1965)' in Yayoi Kusama: In Infinity, London, 2015, p. 11).

In the context of Kusama’s entire oeuvre, the current work represents a sharpening of the artist’s vision, the culmination of decades of tireless commitment and legendary endurance. In her earlier Net paintings, Kusama repeatedly performed the same small gesture again and again, ad infinitum, creating thousands of small semicircles woven into a web partially concealing a contrasting underlay. In Infinity Nets, the artist eliminates the painterly details distinguishing previous Net paintings to bring into focus the thematic mechanical productivity and significance of progression over content in her artwork. 'It is as if her extreme efforts to create these extreme paintings were expended towards the goal of somehow superseding human limitations for artistic production, and, by doing so, beating the machine at its own game'(Laura Hoptman, Yayoi Kusama, 2012, p. 62). Innovating Kusama’s identifiable infinite repetition, deft handling of materials and brilliant choice of colours, Infinity Nets attests to the most iconic and famed Japanese artist’s reinvigorated return to painting in the early 1990s on a scale unmatched since the extensive creation of her Infinity Net paintings from the late 1950s.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets [in Japanese] 1990' on the reverse

Private Collection
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 5 April 2010, lot 373
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Yayoi Kusama

Avant-garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was an influential figure in the postwar New York art scene, staging provocative happenings and exhibiting works such as her “Infinity Nets”, hallucinatory paintings of loops and dots (and physical representations of the idea of infinity). Narcissus Garden, an installation of hundreds of mirrored balls, earned Kusama notoriety at the 1966 Venice Biennale, where she attempted to sell the individual spheres to passersby. Kusama counted Donald Judd and Eva Hesse among her close friends, and is often considered an influence on Andy Warhol and a precursor to Pop art. Since her return to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama's work has continued to appeal to the imagination and the senses, including dizzying walk-in installations, public sculptures, and the "Dots Obsessions" paintings.

Japanese, b. 1929, Matsumoto City, Japan, based in Tokyo, Japan