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To Read At Night

Yayoi Kusama’s 2004 Book To Read At Night, comprises five screen-prints. Each is covered by Kusama’s Nets pattern and contains an eye, open book, the text ‘LOVE FOREVER’, and a small diagram. This enigmatic array references Yayoi Kusama's deep-seated spiritualism as well as her seminal 1998-99 retrospective exhibition at New York's MoMA.

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Meaning & Analysis

Yayoi Kusama’s 2004 series, Book To Read At Night, comprises five screenprints in varying colourways. Each is enmeshed by Kusama’s iconic Infinity Nets pattern, and containing an eye, an open book, the text ‘LOVE FOREVER’, and a small, abstract diagram. Each element possesses a mystical, surreal quality, that is largely enigmatic; the eye motif, however, was dominant in Kusama’s works around 2004, and is the most clearly decipherable element.

The eye, which is always depicted wide-open by Kusama, references the artist’s history of hallucinations, which started as a child with terrifying visions of bright lights, polka dots and other obliterating patterns. These experiences were at once traumatic and eye-opening, leading Kusama to a spiritual revelation that has dominated her oeuvre since: she recounts, ‘I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated, and I was restored, returned to infinity, to eternal time and absolute space. This was not an illusion but reality itself.’ Thus, the eye signifies her spiritual awakening.

The series also makes reference to Yayoi Kusama’s seminal retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, in 1998-99, which was entitled ‘Love Forever.’ This nod to Kusama’s touring retrospective implicitly acknowledges the significance of this landmark moment in the artist’s career, and her secure place in the contemporary art canon.

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