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Review of Yayoi Kusama: White Infinity Nets at Victoria Miro, London

As intricate as they are intriguing, Yayoi Kusama’s White Infinity Nets pull the viewer into the depths of the artist’s psychedelic perspective of the world and leaves you, in fact, seeing dots.

Ten canvases, which were all produced earlier this year, form the inaugural exhibition of the Victoria Miro in Mayfair. Shown exclusively together for the first time in Europe, these iconic paintings illuminate purity, simplicity, and consistency within the artist’s oeuvre. There is a nod to the history of the work as Kusama exhibited these in her debut solo show in New York over 50 years ago; whilst the gallery itself returns to its beginnings with the opening of a space in central London.

Kusama’s monochromatic paintings mimic the soft elegance of the context in which they are shown. The new gallery, in a converted bank office on St. George Street, is aptly suited for smaller scale works in comparison to its larger and more industrial space in East London. Appearing as delicate nets laid over canvas, the repeated gestural markings create a white scalloped pattern over a grey or black washed ground. The paintings stretch beyond the surface of the canvases, lending an effect suggestive of an imaginary infinite abyss. Though cohesive and quite similar, a subtle difference between the works exists as some lean towards the ethereal while others have austere beauty.

In the second room, the exhibition is anchored by the sculpture installation of a china cabinet and table and chairs set for a dinner party. There are physical white metallic nets here, closely hugging the objects and engulfing them like a lace veil over the table. Amongst the table setting there is fruit, wine glasses, and even a woman’s pocketbook left hanging over a chair. With that feminine touch, perhaps here is a hint of the persona of the artist herself (Kusama had her Infinity Nets pattern sewn into a dress); however, there is a much more ominous feel like that of Miss Havisham in her musty wedding dress. Nonetheless, the tangible quality of the installation provides a fitting diversion to the display of painted canvases on view.

Just as Kusama repeats the net-like pattern throughout these paintings, she has repeatedly revisited and expanded this body of work throughout her career. Kusama’s Infinity Nets hold importance to the artist as well as the art market: being her most recognisable pieces with one owned by her close friend Donald Judd and having been auctioned for a record-breaking amount for a living female artist. This show continues to reveal the significance of the work as all of the pieces have already been sold.

Ashton Chandler

Yayoi Kusama: White Infinity Nets, 1 October until 9 November, Victoria Miro, 14 St George Street, London, W1S 1FE. www.victoria-miro.com

Credits:

1. Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY NETS [FBB], 2013
2. Installation View, Victoria Miro. 2013

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