Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Monday, June 20, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “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.”
    — Yayoi Kusama

    A stunning example of art-world phenomenon Yayoi Kusama’s acclaimed series of Infinity Net paintings, the present work dazzles in its exploration of spatial abstraction and the concept of infinitude. Painted in 1992, a year prior to Kusama becoming the first Japanese artist to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale as an individual, the kaleidoscopic canvas is composed of an endless maze of oscillating, ruby-red and white geometric shapes, creating a net-like effect as denoted by the work’s title.

     


    The artist in her New York studio, 1958-1959
    ©YAYOI KUSAMA

    The Infinity Net motif is arguably the most iconic theme explored by Kusama throughout her entire oeuvre. Alongside her Pumpkin compositions, Kusama’s Infinity Net works have become synonymous with the artist’s name, celebrated and recognised across the globe. This established series emerged in the early 1960s, shortly after Kusama moved from Japan to New York in the 1950s, after having taken notice of the city’s buzzing art scene and desperately seeking a release from the restraints she felt in her upbringing at home. Motivated by her new surroundings, Kusama aspired ‘grab everything that went on in the city and become a star’ i .

     

    She channelled this newfound artistic liberty into her work, exploring the notions of boundlessness and infinity with her vast canvases of organic shapes. Rendered in simple palettes, Kusama’s delicate nets expand limitlessly across the surface of her paintings, visually echoing the cosmos, cells, and atoms— the compositions of our universe. Like membranes, her biomorphic forms float effortlessly, suspended in space and time, optically illusionary and enrapturing in their dynamic quality.

     "My room, my body, the entire universe was filled with [patterns]…… myself was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space. This was not an illusion but reality."
    — Yayoi Kusama

    ‘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 always standing at the centre of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me,’ explains Kusama i, whose oeuvre draws inspiration from her own hallucinations. Plagued by horrifying apparitions of engulfing dots and patterns as a child, which she has cited as stemming from her experiences growing up on her parents' seed farm, Kusama began to incorporate these visions into her works, bravely transforming them into netted and dotted compositions that would come to be considered her trademark.

     

    As such, Kusama’s Infinity Nets can simultaneously be considered a bold reclamation of her psyche from her mental traumas, as well as a powerful tribute to the endless wonders of the universe. Indeed, the creation of these patterns is both laborious and ritualistic in its repetitiveness, as Kusama often loses herself within the creative process, allowing the nets to consume her the same way they envelop the viewer. Creating a pulsating void of methodical yet compulsive patterns, Kusama’s work transports both the artist and the audience into a trance-like state in which we witness the clash between two conflicting obsessions:  the comforting confinement of repetition, and the reckless indulgence of losing control.
     

    "Dissolution and accumulation; propagation and separation; particulate obliteration and unseen reverberations from the universe—these were to become the foundations of my art."
    — Yayoi Kusama 

    The present work, Infinity Net, stands as a prime example of one of her most emblematic, longest-running series. In May of this year, Phillips New York sold an early work from the same series, Untitled (Nets), for USD $10,496,000— a record-breaking sum for Kusama’s work at auction. One of the most important contemporary artists today, Kusama continues to amaze with her boundless artistic interpretation of ‘infinity’.
     

     


    Universally recognised as one of the most important artists of our time, Kusama’s work forms part of extensive museum collections throughout the world. This includes the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

     

    Having been honoured with extensive solo exhibitions throughout her career, including the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and a large retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2012, Kusama continues to affirm her position as a leading contemporary artist. She has recently presented a retrospective at the Gropius Bau in Berlin (23 April – 15 August 2021), and an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden (10 April – 31 October 2021).

     

    Kusama recently also had a solo exhibition at the Tate Modern in London (18 May 2021 – 12 June 2022), and the Rubell Museum in Miami (18 November 2020 – 12 December 2021).

     

    i Yayoi Kusama, quoted in Udo Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, p. 103, 2000

    ii Yayoi Kusama quoted in Akira Tatehata, Yayoi Kusama, London, 2000, p. 11

    • Provenance

      André Simoens Gallery, Knokke-Heist
      Private Collection
      Christie’s, London, 5 October 2018, lot 231
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • 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. 

      View More Works

Property of an Important Asian Collector

210

Infinity Net

signed, titled and dated 'yayoi Kusama 1992 "Infinity Net" [in Japanese]' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
53.3 x 45.6 cm. (20 7/8 x 17 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1992, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's studio.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$2,800,000 - 3,500,000 
€341,000-426,000
$359,000-449,000

Sold for HK$3,780,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 21 June 2022