Motif (noun): a distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition
All artists feature motifs throughout their work as a way to convey a certain idea or topic. These motifs generally carry a rich history and intense meaning that is highlighted in every brush stroke or word. Often, throughout history, motifs are repeated over and over by different creatives, inspired by thoughts or works created by other artists. However, what truly sets an artist apart from the rest is their ability to create a completely new and original idea for a motif that inspires a new generation.
Yayoi Kusama, a world-renowned and celebrated artist, has become infamous for her polka dot and universe motifs. While polka dots have been featured in art through pointillism and are often seen in fashion, the idea of dots as a representative of the universe and a vast infinity that binds everyone together gives her art a new and different way to convey the idea of human and nature’s interconnectedness.
Her art likens the polka dot to a never-ending infinity, an infinity woven throughout the universe. Her work uses nature, covered in polka dots and multiplied through the use of mirrors, to draw synonymity between the macro and micro levels of the world and galaxy.
She claims that “Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others… 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.’”
For almost seventy years Yayoi Kusama has developed her practice of repeating dots in a stylistic pattern, which, although it shares affiliations with movements such as Surrealism, Minimalism and Pop Art, resists any one classification. Like the universe, her art strives to take abstract forms that are independent and hold their own distinct mood and character. She combines painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, and film to bring to life the illusions of being completely free in never-ending space.
Her newest work embodies immersive environments and offers a sense of infinity again through her combination of colourful dots. Featured in her upcoming exhibit Space Shifters in the Hayward Gallery from September 26th, 2018 – January 6th, 2019, her work joins more than twenty other international artists whose work distorts one’s sense of space and redefines the idea of consistency in our surrounding universe. Her film, coming out on October 5th, 2018 in UK cinemas, also highlights her life and her evolution as an artist, along with her famous, dotted art.
Bringing together art and the universe, Yayoi Kusama has left her mark on her field and helped give the polka dot a new definition. With endless dimensions just waiting to be explored, the polka dot has become a new sensation, admired and revered by artists excited to continue her legendary motif.