Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David Zwirner, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In front of paint brushes and canvas, my hands react to them and make my work before I think of anything. Then, when the piece is completed, I look at it, and am surprised by the result—always.” - Yayoi Kusama

    INFINITY-NETS (GMBKA) presents the viewer with a glittering black canvas adorned by a meticulously applied web of golden-orange. Rendered in congregations of varying density, the individually painted linesgenerate an entrancing optical sensation as they expand and contract across the large canvas with a steady pulse. From afar, the repeated iterations of a single touch of the brush establish a spellbinding sense of pictorial space. Upon closer examination, the incessant quality of this calculated gesture reveals a dizzying, labour-intensive technique that envelops both the viewer and the artist in the concept of the infinite.

    Created approximately 60 years after she began her expansive Infinity Nets series, INFINITY-NETS (GMBKA) exemplifies the contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s most celebrated and best-known motif. Employing a unique framework that has become instantly identifiable to her practice, Kusama’s obsessive exploration of Infinity Net variations harkens back to the artist’s well-documented childhood hallucinations. Born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, Japan, Kusama’s crucial years of early adolescence passed while the country was still at war. It was during this time that the artist began to experience vivid hallucinations of rhythmic patterns that engulfed her field of vision. As dots and semicircles would “envelop [her], clinging to [her] arms and legs and clothes and filling the entire room”, Kusama refigured her kaleidoscopic neurosis into ceaseless art marking, deliberately representing its startling sensory effects in her practice. (Yayoi Kusama, quoted in Marie Laurberg, Deep Surfaces: Yayoi Kusama In Infinity, Humblebaek, 2015, p. 12).

    Now considered to be at the core of Kusama's artistry and person, her Infinity Nets series was born after the artist arrived in New York in the 1950s, seeking artistic freedom from the conventions of her native Japan. In being introduced to New York’s avant-garde scene, Kusama found inspiration in the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, as well as the meditative qualities found in the work of Donald Judd and Frank Stella (who both acquired her paintings during this time). These early net paintings, described by the artist as “a white net of nothingness composed of an astronomical aggregation of connected dots [that] will obliterate me and others, and the whole of the universe”, laid the foundations of her iconic style. Openly displaying the process of their making, Kusama's repetitions portray the artist’s technical facility and stamina. Working for 40 or 50 hours without taking a break, Kusama would lose herself in her practice, as her dots and nets arose from a desire to subsume individual ego and obliterate the self.

    Expanding her palette to include vibrant colours, INFINITY-NETS (GMBKA) represents a mature, archetype work from the artist’s oeuvre rendered in acrylic paint instead of oil – a pivotal transition that Kusama undertook in the late 1970s. This transition also signifies Kusama’s return to a water-based medium, having employed traditional Japanese nihonga watercolour to compose the series’ earlier works. While Kusama has worked across a widely diverse media during the many distinctive phases in her career, her fundamental methodology of obsessive patterning, as seen in the present work, retains a remarkable consistency that has carried through her practice.

  • Artist Biography

    Yayoi Kusama


    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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signed, titled and dated '"GMBKA INFINITY-NETS" YAYOI KUSAMA 2013' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
162 x 131 cm. (63 3/4 x 51 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2013, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's company.

HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000 

Sold for HK$7,710,000

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019