This richly illustrated volume offers the occasion to discover Tomoo Gokita's latest body of work, featuring his newest large-scale paintings and a number of never-before-seen works made under lockdown during the pandemic.
While Tomoo Gokita first gained notoriety in 2005 for his monochromatic palette and grayscale figurative paintings, his latest works illustrate a major departure for his practice. Launching into a vast world of vibrant pastels, the artist presented at Dallas Contemporary familiar motifs of pin-up models, female wrestlers and familial portraiture alongside mundane symbols embedded in our current reality that now hedge on absurdism in the wake of the past year's events.
This richly illustrated volume offers the occasion to discover Gokita's latest body of work, featuring his newest large-scale paintings and a number of never-before-seen works made under lockdown during the pandemic. From the beginning of his career as an artist, his paintings and pencil and ink drawings have demonstrated a remarkable range of style, seamlessly subverting the dichotomy of abstraction and figuration to produce a practice of an unmistakable and psychological character.
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Dallas Contemporary in 2021.
Tomoo Gokita (born 1969 in Tokyo) developed his signature style of monochromatic and greyscale painting from his career as a graphic designer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Inspired by vintage magazines, film stills, pornography, and postcards he produced a series of newsprint books, some of which gained cult status, such as Lingerie Wrestling (2000). Gokita's penchant for pop culture immediately made him a celebrated figure within the fashion and music scenes, but the attention left him feeling creatively stifled. In 2005, he set aside graphic design entirely for the unconstrained artistic freedom of painting and drawing. From the beginning of his career as an artist, Gokita has worked in a broad but distinctive range of styles and subject matter. His pencil and ink drawings range from suburban scenes depicted in photo-realistic detail to cartoonish renditions of wrestler masks. Earlier canvases from the late 2000s tend towards ethereal abstraction, be it writhing organic forms, tessellating geometric patterns, or heavily distorted figures isolated within ambiguous backgrounds. Whether the compositions are loose or tight, Gokita says, "There's nothing haphazard, not even an accidental drip-in them." In recent years, his piercing, psychologically charged paintings have portrayed subjects in sharper focus, yet, whether depicting wrestlers, starlets, dancers, or newlyweds, the artist shrouds these styled cultural types in an atmosphere of eerie anonymity. Some compositions seem grounded in specific art-historical references—ranging from Surrealism to post-war German figurative painting—yet are often imbued with the syntax of mainstream culture and its more obscure undercurrents. Viewers are left scavenging their memories for cultural indicators or contexts to complete the elusive, often inscrutable narratives before them.