One of our favorite painters, Tomoo Gokita, is currently showing Peekaboo, a major solo exhibition at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery organized with Taka Ishii Gallery. The exhibition is comprised of around 40 artworks, including a large installation, with about half of new works being publicly presented for the first time.
Starting with a career in illustration, Gokita was always inspired by 1960s and 1970s American subcultures like underground magazines, wrestling, music and photography. These influences are noticeable throughout the exhibition, especially when seeing his impressive series of 225 portraits of wrestlers painted between 2002 and 2018 in record sleeve format, accompanied by music.
Over the years, Gokita developed an unmistakable technique of freely constructing his pictures as if he were creating a collage form. With the addition of primarily monochrome palette, these images are seemingly limited in their appearance but therefore provide endless possibilities of interpretation. Carefully calculated use of gradation and shadows create a slick, fashionable allure to his entire oeuvre, which is often in direct contrast with irregular, distorted shapes appearing regularly. This unusual combination leads to subtle humorousness, but also nostalgia, placing the works somewhere between the representational and the abstract. The lack of exactness in combination with profound painterly technique undoubtedly appeals to the viewers’ imaginations, and adds to Gokita's worldwide recognition and respect. —Sasha Bogojev
All images: Tomoo Gokita “PEEKABOO,” installation view at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, through June 24, 2018.
Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. Photos by Kenji Takahashi