Artist Yayoi Kusama breaks the bounds of contemporary art by refusing to be boxed into a time or an creative movement, but rather bringing her viewers into the depths of her inner mind. From a young age, Kusama faced mental illness, hallucinations, and challenges at home, with her artwork being the one factor she could always turn to. Her infinity net paintings, which are recognized by many as endless polka dots, offer an extension to the canvas, challenging its physical and psychological bounds. This effect is meant to bring viewers into somewhat of a hypnotic state, experiencing what Kusama often visualizes.
She explains her experience with the infinity nets as a result of a daydream, sharing, “One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space.” This feeling of infinity is replicated in her infinity room exhibitions which bring visitors into a room that feels endless.
Kusama experimented beyond the canvas, even releasing her own avant garde clothing line in collaboration with Louis Vuitton. The collection featured her signature polka dot pattern, first seen on a portrait of her mother that she made at the age of 10. Kusama often wears her patterns to emphasize the idea of art being infinite and beyond the canvas.
Kusama shares on her use of polka dots, “Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments. With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe. Pursuing philosophy of the universe through art under such circumstances has led me to what I call stereotypical repetition.”
This philosophy transpires into Kusama’s creations and inspires many to recognize the healing powers of art, along with its ability to take form in all parts of the universe.