Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    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.

  • Artist Biography

    Yayoi Kusama

    Japanese • 1929

    Named "the world's most popular artist" in 2015, it's not hard to see why Yayoi Kusama continues to dazzle contemporary art audiences globally. From her signature polka dots—"fabulous," she calls them—to her mirror-and-light Infinity Rooms, Kusama's multi-dimensional practice of making art elevates the experience of immersion. To neatly pin an artistic movement onto Kusama would be for naught: She melds and transcends the aesthetics and theories of many late twentieth century movements, including Pop Art and Minimalism, without ever taking a singular path. 

    As an octogenarian who still lives—somewhat famously—in a psychiatric institution in Tokyo and steadfastly paints in her immaculate studio every day, Kusama honed her punchy cosmic style in New York City in the 1960s. During this period, she staged avant-garde happenings, which eventually thrust her onto the international stage with a series of groundbreaking exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1980s and the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. She continues to churn out paintings and installations at inspiring speed, exhibiting internationally in nearly every corner of the globe, and maintains a commanding presence on the primary market and at auction. 

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Property of an Important Asian Collector

2

Infinity Nets

1990
signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets [in Japanese] 1990' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
72.7 x 91 cm. (28 5/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1990, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Yayoi Kusama Studio.

Estimate
HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 
€144,000-217,000
$154,000-231,000

Sold for HK$3,800,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Sandy Ma
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

General Enquiries
+852 2318 2000

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016