Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips

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  • … They[The dots] began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe. I was always standing at the centre of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me.”
    — Yayoi Kusama

    In monumental effervescence, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots (HTI) triumphs as one the largest of the artist’s canvases to ever appear in public auction. Spanning almost four metres wide and two metres in height, this larger-than-life triptych engulfs the audience in an infinite landscape: shimmering silver dots of various sizes and shades transcend their formalist nature to blanket the canvas in a rhythmic undulation. Pulsating and ever expanding, the poetic lattice confronts the viewer’s perception of space and time, capturing the stillness of a transient moment but simultaneously weaving the audience into a boundless mindscape. The translucent silver impasto resonates a weightless quality in sheer contrast with the obsessive pattern and overwhelming magnitude of the triptych, brilliantly offsetting reality. To behold this masterpiece is to be transported into the artist’s hypnotic universe, forever billowing, swelling, and receding.



    Detail of the present lot


    Synonymous to Kusama’s distinguished artistic career, her dotted patterns have been exhaustively canonised in sculptures, prints, and canvases of various sizes. Completed almost five decades after her initial venture into the subject, the present work materialises the artist’s most determined vision and exhaustive practice in museum-grade exquisiteness. As a jewel of extreme scarcity, Infinity Dots (HTI) has never been auctioned but nevertheless enjoyed international acclaim when exhibited in Yayoi Kusama: Dots Obsession at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney.



    The Art of Artmaking


    Born in Matsumoto City, Japan, in 1929, Yayoi Kusama spent her formative years battling an obsessive-compulsive disorder which resulted in hallucinations. These very illusions would continue to debilitate her throughout her life but at the same time, inspire her prolific artistic career.


    “When I was a child, one day I was walking in the field, then all of a sudden, the sky became bright over the mountains, and I saw clearly the very image I was about to paint appear in the sky… I immediately transferred the idea onto a canvas. It was a hallucination only the mentally ill can experience.”
    — Yayoi Kusama on the origin of her Infinity series

    Yayoi Kusama in her Studio, 1958-1959
    Artwork: © YAYOI KUSAMA


    In realising her delirium through art, Kusama’s craft has become synonymous to the act of salvation, where she would forego sleep to compulsively paint for forty or fifty hours per session, which is Illustriously exemplified by Infinity Dots (HTI). Extreme dedication is demanded as the completion of each dot dictates it surrounding compositions. No further alternations are permitted in order to uphold a uniform effect. Through painstakingly layering circles of impasto atop of one another, the labyrinthine of overlapping dots launches an alternate universe, where cognition has been displaced. In such manner, Infinity Dots (HTI) captures the obsessive mind and psychological power of the artist as a self-portrait does. The repetitive motion and extreme concentration have become an integral part of the infinity dots, as Kusama pours her spirit and craft onto the canvas.


    “This was my epic, summing up all I was...And the spell of the dots and the mesh enfolded me in a magical curtain of mysterious, invisible power.”
    — Yayoi Kusama


    To Infinity and Beyond


    Relentlessly devoted to honing her craft, a 28 year old Kusama emigrated from her native Japan to Seattle, then to New York city at 29, where she first realised her grand vision of the celestial tessellation in her first solo exhibition at the Brata Gallery in 1960. Since then, the artist would ceaselessly perfect her infinity nets and dots, always returning to her most eminent motif.



    A Short Film on Yayoi Kusama’s New York Trip and Obsessive Art Practices



    During Kusama’s meteoric rise to prominence in the city, she found aesthetic and spiritual affinities in the grand gestures of the abstract expressionists and the sublime of the minimalists—two of the most influential art movements of the century. The most mature example of such craft, Infinity Dots (HTI) impressively collects the palpating energy of action paintings and singular gravitas of minimalism to envelope the audience into a microcosm of pure perception, through billowing shades of impasto and repetitive patterns of variegated sizes. At the same time, Kusama emphasises repetition in lieu of the monochrome and obsession over abstraction in bold confrontation of her Western contemporaries. At once majestic and weightless, discomforting yet quiet, the present work transcends the boundaries of a work on canvas, in manifesting beyond the pictorial plane to create an unprecedentedly immersive and disquieting mystery. In Kusama’s cosmic fantasy, humans—viewers and artists alike—dissolve into singular cells, extending into their surroundings to constitute a uniform humanity.


    “Up till Kusama, there were many artists from the Renaissance on, who were involved with perceptive and infinity. But it was all fake, because you know you were the viewer. You were always aware that you were the master. That it was a painting encompassed by a frame and the artist was playing with space, but it wasn’t enveloping you.”
    — Richard Castellane, prior owner of Castellane Gallery


    Collector’s Digest


    • With its large size, which makes it of institutional quality and unparalleled rarity, the present work remains one of her most coveted masterpieces by collectors. Indeed, in the past year, Phillips New York has achieved the artist’s highest auction record—a ground-breaking USD $10.5 million—with the sale of an Infinity Net; shifting the artist's market to unprecedented heights. Appearing in auction for the first time, Infinity Dots (HTI) will most certainly be crowned as one of the artist’s most distinguished offering.

    • Institutional recognitions for the artist ushered such momentum—In 2022, Hong Kong’s newly established M+ museum debuted its first special exhibition Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, the artist’s largest retrospective in Asia. On view until 14 May 2023, the exhibition notably features a highly comparable red infinity dots within the same series.

    Yayoi Kusama, Accumulation of Stardust, 2001
    Collection of the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, currently on view at the M+ Museum, Hong Kong
    Artwork: © YAYOI KUSAMA
    • No artist has witnessed a more glorious year than the artist Yayoi Kusama. Her collaboration with Louis Vuitton has generated international fanfare as her larger-than-life sculptures and classic polka dotted pattern—a signature of this particular lot—adorns the Louis Vuitton storefronts of metropolitan cities.

    • Celebrations of the artist transpired beyond Asia: the artist has held solo exhibitions around the most prestigious institutions around the globe, including one of her largest installation exhibitions to date entitled Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life at Tate Modern in London which concluded in 2022 and One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirschhorn Collection presently on view in the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D.C.

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    • Description

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    • Provenance

      Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Dots Obsession, 3 – 26 February 2005

    • 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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Infinity Dots (HTI)

signed, titled and dated 'yayoi Kusama "Infinity Dots 2001 (HTI)"' on the reverse of each panel
acrylic on canvas, triptych
overall 194 x 390 cm. (76 3/8 x 153 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2001, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's studio.

Full Cataloguing

HK$25,000,000 - 30,000,000 

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Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
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[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023