Yayoi Kusama

"NOW" - January 9 - February 20, 1999

Yayoi Kusama: “NOW”
Press Release
January 9th, 1999 through February 20th, 1999

Yayoi Kusama’s work has been besieged by controversy and seemingly irresolvable dichotomies. Is she concerned with pressing artistic and social issues, or is her work more a personal adventure in self-therapy? Is her work a product of her long and tumultuous history of mental illness, or is it a truly revolutionary vision (or ‘net’) through which all signs of identity and objectivity are obliterated? Recent exhibitions have focused on Kusama’s work during her most prolific periods working as a Japanese woman in the 1960’s art scene in New York (a potential double handicap at the time). This tight focus on her early productions serves as a wonderful primer for the issues that were to dominate her work to this day. While Kusama’s early work defines her approach to the pressing issues of sexuality, identity and personal freedom, they also illustrate the obliteration of identity through their obsessive focus on repetition. These work focus on the dissolution of the object and the issue, making tem merely a surface upon which Kusama can project and define her powerful artistic vision. What is now more relevant though to Kusama’s identity as an artist is how these motifs developed throughout her career. In Kusama’s NOW exhibit at the Kantor Gallery; her more recent works form the nucleus of the show. Here the path Kusama takes from the disintegration prevalent in her early work, to the reintegration evident in her later work, is more fully realized. Kusama seems to recognize now that the power of her ‘vision’ lies not just in her ability to project that vision onto the outside world (figuratively casting an ‘infinity net’ over the world). Now that vision seems vision seems to have evolved into a recognition that these elements have always existed. Her forms are no longer dissolved into a monolithic vision; they now seem to emerge from that vision. The strength of Kusama’s work has moved from the imposition of her vision on the world, to a unifying recognition that her vision has always existed in the world. She merely was one of the first to recognize it… the mark of a truly great artist.