Obsession of the Week

This Hypnotic Yayoi Kusama Collage Seems to Reach beyond the Canvas

Yayoi Kusama’s polka dots, hallucinatory patterns, giant pumpkins, dazzling installations and tentacle-like sculptures are as captivating as they are iconic. For more than six decades, the prolific Japanese artist, now 92, has conveyed a vision that’s both playful and hypnotic, embracing the transcendental, in pieces characterized by a unique minimalism full of soul-stirring complexities.

Repetition GL.A, 1996, is a rare example of her collage work. It features spotted stalagmite forms extending from a background of Kusama’s emblematic “infinity net” design rendered in white acrylic. She developed this repetitive motif in the 1950s as a form of art therapy, fueled by a desire to “lend specificity to the infinity of space,” says David Stern, of STERN PISSARRO GALLERY in London, quoting a line from Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama.

Repetition GL.A, 1996, by Yayoi Kusama
Repetition GL.A, 1996, by Yayoi Kusama, with a detail shown at top

The lattice of looping semicircles has a meditative effect on the viewer, drawn into a disorientating landscape of gauzy undulations and strange protuberances. “There are many examples of net paintings and three-dimensional sculptures,” says Stern. “What is special in Repetition GL.A is both these motifs’ being combined into one artwork with the inclusion of collages that are printouts of images of her phallic works.”

The result is a composition bursting with poetry, teeming with life yet quite unfamiliar, reflecting Kusama’s belief that art is a gateway to a higher realm of thought. “My wish,” she once wrote, “is for you to explore yourself and find a marvelous view of your life, during your life.”

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