Dots Obsession 1999, Yayoi Kusama
The 2000 Biennale of Sydney has got off to an unusually good start with a high degree of reviewer unanimity that this Biennale has got the goods, offering an invaluable retrospective of works from significant local and international artists, something that Documenta X did too in its own epic way in 1997. This smaller, but still considerable gathering has the added bonus of being free. Several works have already grabbed the public imagination; one of them is Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession.
The catalogue entry reports that “From her childhood Yayoi Kusama was plagued with a nervous disorder that made her hear voices and see visions. She accepted these things as mysterious signals from nature, from the universe. She came to feel that these signals enveloped the world, as if with a curtain, or a net, and started expressing this in her work via polka dots. ‘One day’, she writes, ‘looking at a red flower patterned tablecloth I turned my eyes to the ceiling and saw the same pattern everywhere.’ After-images seemed to cover everything and it seemed as if she herself would fade away into that dot-filled world…Drawing was one way for Kusama to take a stand in this world, by giving reality to what she saw. And so she began to paint polka dots. While dots or spots are simple geometric figures, they are also organic shapes that suggest cells, molecules, particles and seeds that are the fundamental building blocks of life” (Yuko Hasegawa, Catalogue, 2000 Biennale of Sydney).
In RealTime 38 (August-September) there’ll be a an extensive response to the 2000 Biennale of Sydney 2000.