Kusama’s regular use of polka dots has made her name synonymous with this motif. They begin to appear in her earliest compositions, including Accumulation, an ink-on-paperboard field of black polka dots in empty space. This drawing is among the thousands of paintings and drawings on paper she began producing in 1951 in Japan. Though the scale of these compositions is intimate, for the artist they evoke a sense of vastness. She once described them as reflecting “the great depth of my inner heart.” Like much of her work to come, Accumulation is based on repetition—or as its title suggests, on the accumulation of her repeating marks—and stems largely from the aural and visual hallucinations Kusama had been experiencing since she was 10 years old. “I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings,” she once explained.
Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017