On 11 January 2014, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Chelsea location an exhibition of new paintings by Tomoo Gokita.
With a lifelong practice of drawing, professional experience in graphic design, and early success in creating newsprint books, Tomoo Gokita began around 2005 to create works on canvas that demonstrated his virtuosity with tonal range. For the current show, in paintings of varying sizes, he presents dazzling possibilities for black and white. Velvety matte black gouache contrasts with pristine white gesso. Smears, scrapes, scumbles, and drips introduce every texture, character, and gradation of gray. The paintings have the restraining effect of Photostats of very colorful subjects.
These subjects – all portraits – are a source of intrigue. By giving the paintings titles such as Showgirl, Geisha Girl, A Bathing Beauty, Cocktail Pianist from Acapulco, Daughter of a Fraudster, A Female Spy, Gokita points to dated archetypes lifted from pulp fiction, Hollywood rags, and film noir. The full or half-length figures appear in a state of deconstruction or deterioration appropriate to their origin in memory, their resurrection from the past: flesh morphs and melts, with faces obscured by a mask or veil of paint. Like the cryptic fantasies of the Surrealist painters, Gokita conjures a world at once humorous and disconcerting.
Tomoo Gokita was born in 1969 in Tokyo, Japan, where he continues to live and work. This will be his first show with Mary Boone Gallery.