This work is to be sold with an artwork registration card issued by the artist studio.
Private Collection, Asia
Japan, Nagano, Karuizawa New Art Museum, I Love Myself Too Much!! Yayoi Kusama, 11 April-23 September, 2013.
I Love Myself Too Much!! Yayoi Kusama, Karuizawa New Art Museum, Nagano, Japan, 2013 (illustrated, plate 89, p. 118).
The Infinite Universe of Paranoiac Art
Both Mt. Fuji (QPWE) (Lot 188) and Dots & Dots (QASTOL) (Lot 189) are extended from the monochrome composition of Infinity Nets series; Yayoi Kusama used overwhelming "Nets" or "dots" to practice her illusory art of endless repetition and proliferation. In Mt. Fuji (QPWE), the compositions without starts, ends and centres in the homogeneous and even pictures in her early period are shifted into a scene employing geometric shapes to arrange and structure the tableau, which tests the artist's reflection of arranging levels and relations among the scenery and things. As for Dots & Dots (QASTOL), it enters the infinity of eternal time and the absoluteness of the universe through a process of eliminating concrete boundaries by means of dots, incarnating "dissolving the self; back to the natural state of the universe". Although the two works represent totally different scenery and abstract compositions, essentially, they both express Yayoi Kusama's "paranoiac art" which invites the viewer to reflect on the meaning of the self and existence through shifts between figurative and abstract styles. So the two pieces also become best models for analyzing the evolution of Kusama's creative thoughts.
Yayoi Kusama's approach of unifying the picture with one single colour is derived from the Infinity Nets series started from the 1950s when she lived in the U.S. Using accumulated monochrome Nets, she managed to create a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional surface. In 1960, works from her Infinity Nets series were included in a major exhibition of Monochrome Painting held in Staedtisches Museum in Leverkusen in Germany, alongside works by Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Mark Rothko. She has set the base of developing her monochrome painting since then. In Mt. Fuji (QPWE), a continuation in the vein of monochrome composition, red is the only colour. By further adding elements of dot, line and plane to structure figurative scenery, Kusama made a breakthrough regarding her previous expression done by net lines totally covering the canvas. Abandoning combinations of colours, she only used red and white to create visual impacts, grasping the geometric shapes in differentiated intensities, representing the relations of multiple layers of the scene and things under monotones. The structure of "net texture" in the picture is no longer net-shapes woven simply with fine lines. Rather, it is developed into intricate arrangements of organic cellular structure seen under a microscope. "Net texture" and "net points" in organic repetitions and proliferating extensions, reflect Kusama's ideas after observing nature. Through her creation, she reflects on human, perceives and grasps the immensity of the universe, seeing that the self is nothing but an insignificant existence, as she said, "Does infinity remain infinite in the universe? I noticed this and I wanted to observe this in my life. My life is also a dot, a dot among countless particles."
In Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves featuring ancient Japanese poetries, Mount Fuji is described as follows, "The divine spirit that guards the country is this Japanese mountain. Mt. Fuji on the Suruga Bay remains a fine scene to watch." Mount Fuji is regarded as a spiritual and cultural symbol by the Japanese people. In Yayoi Kusama's large retrospective, My Eternal Soul recently closed in Tokyo, Japan, one of the pieces at the entrance welcoming the visitors, When Life Boundlessly Flares Up to The Universe shows a colourful Mount Fuji in large dimension. Such arrangement suffices to prove the importance the artist attaches to the mount's spiritual meaning. Mount Fuji is one of Kusama's favourite subjects. She has chosen it as the subject of creation in the 1980s for a several times, but she was unable to create large dimensional works due to spatial limits. However, the artist has chosen it as the subject several times in different phases of her artistic career. The relatively few figurative landscapes by the artist foreground the artist's emotional attachment to the scenery and her identification with the spiritual notion represented by Mount Fuji.
After several years of accumulating painting techniques, Mt. Fuji (QPWE) made in 2005 shows outstanding progress whether from the clear-cut planes or the various geometric shapes. The composition is symmetric; although the village at the foot of a mountain below is randomly and horizontally spread along the horizon, in the centre of the mountain, red dots are arranged vertically, which seems to imply Mount Fuji's nature as an active volcano and implies an limitless energy that springs upwards. Yayoi Kusama has reflected on the subject over and over; she used different arrangements of elements even with the same clouds, endeavoring to diversify the picture and enhance it interest. As a work of magnified dimension, Mt. Fuji (QPWE) not only represents a particular preference of composition, but also affirms and proves the improvement of the artist's techniques.
Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern said, "Kusama's works have some importance, like the instinctive desire to take risk, the ability to continually improve the self by proceeding some invention or accepting external influence, the practice of pure artistic ambition, etc., which are the mainstays of her art; although the forms of her works seem to change fundamentally, her oeuvre is consistent in terms of its interest in system and schema, its employment of blank, white and bright colours, as well as contrasts between oppositional things such as infinitely big and microscopic worlds, the concrete and the abstract, black and white, etc."
Dots are at the core of Yayoi Kusama's philosophy. Having suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder since her childhood, she is disturbed by illusions. Shapes of materials of the world in her eyes are all dismantled or metamorphosed into dots spreading in the space. Yet, in order to fight the disease, she records the all-over illusory state with her paintbrush. Through the ritual of transforming all the surrounding materials into dots and particles, she comes to entirely bury herself and existence into the dots, obliterating restraints of anxiety and disturbance, dissolving the self's shape, and uniting it with eternity, like she said, "In the process of dissolving the specific self, man would return to the core of the boundless universe."
Staring from her Accumulation series in the 1950s, dots has become the most important constituent elements in Yayoi Kusama's creation. She said, "Like human interaction, dots cannot exist alone. In three, in tandem or more, dots form a movement. The Earth is just a dot among millions of stars in the universe. Dot is a way to reach infinity." By using dots as a sign, Kusama implies the limitless vitality of procreation and the immensity of the universe, echoing Kandinsky's elaboration in Point and Line to Plane, "In the painting itself, dot is the simples shape; the repetition of dots becomes a strong means to enhance the internal voice. Differing from the artist's early works that keep the traces of her strokes and imperfect hand-drawn contour, the dots by Kusama in the 1980s evolved into precise and homogeneous geometric circles through her extremely delicate repeated flat colouring. Dots after the 1990s began to introduce changes of light and shadow, adding graded shadow effects to two-dimensional dots, representing the idea of three-dimensional ball. Dots & Dots (QASTOL)created in 2007 is extended from dots with global surfaces of the 1990s. Some black dots are painted through thick opaque applications of colour while others are circled with rather diluted paint and suggest the penetrating quality of light at the same time. Dots of different sizes are irregularly arranged and willfully filling the space; such disposition contains boundless vitality, freely interweaving and expanding in the picture; large or small conglomerations create illusions of lightning, dying-out and wavering. The contrasting tones of black and silver in Dots & Dots (QASTOL) render the imagination of countless spots of light in the universe. Combining decades of work in refining dots painting, Kusama's dots in monochromes here are like spots of light lurking in the sub-consciousness, unfolding the space into a grand universe.
The use, organization and juxtaposition of dots in different shapes are showing Yayoi Kusma's thoughts about the internal characteristics of materials. In Dots & Dots (QASTOL), the artist accumulates black dots into an infinite space of the universe. The dots seemingly identical at first glance come to possess individual details and characters through the artist's hand-drawn traces, which also seems to be a metaphor of the diverse life systems procreated by separate planets in the universe. By choosing silver paint, a colour rarely used by the artist, as the background tone, Kusama further deepens the boundless depth of the backdrop shown through the metallic colour's reflection. Dots of diverse dimensions arranged disorderly create a fluid space of nuanced intensity. "I want to represent a different kind of ‘light' and seek a new form of painting expression by using rhythms of infinite repetition and monotones of black and white." Having gone through the period of composition of shiny colours in the 1980s, Yayoi Kusama returns to the compositional disposition of single tones. Both Mt. Fuji (QPWE) and Dots & Dots (QASTOL)contain the conclusion of her long years of artistic experience. By extending and continuing her basic development of the previous context, she had returned to the very first, the most primitive thinking on geometric states, further exploring the intrinsic difference in nature.