“Bring on Picasso, bring on Matisse, bring on anybody! I would stand up to them all with a single polka dot!” — Yayoi Kusama
She wasn’t kidding. Kusama’s oeuvre comprises intensely detailed but repetitive patterns or aggregations of single style brush strokes, although she has also exhibited furniture and household objects covered in individually stitched phalluses, and latterly some rather stunning 3D installations.
In these painting, the marks didn’t have to be identical, in fact some were impasto within a sea of lower profile strokes, and she used these to make nets, sometimes adding colour to the spaces in between. I was introduced to her via the Coursera course on post war abstract art and made the painting below as part of that module.
It was an interesting exercise. I had re-purposed a used canvas board, adding a layer of white gesso and then another layer of lemon yellow wash so that the textures of the original painting were still evident, and the deep blues and purples influenced the tone of the yellow. Adding orange ‘marigold petals’ made my eyes dance and cast all kinds of complementary after-images. As I look at it now, they seem to be floating above the background, which is unexpected.
I don’t think I have the patience or the mindset to see this as a primary technique, but it adds another way of making marks to my tool chest.