Vanity Drunko

March 24, 2007 —
May 19, 2007


VIEW WORK

PRESS RELEASE

Honor Fraser is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Tomoo Gokita.

Tomoo Gokita is acclaimed for his mysterious black and white drawings and paintings which reveal a world that floats between the abstract and the real. His unusual use of gouache on paper and canvas creates velvety textures, while allowing for an immediacy of application and referencing popular forms of visual media such as posters and comics. A former DJ, his work mixes a range of references, from lingerie, calligraphy and Western pin-up girls, to professional wrestling, third rate porn and beer. The results are both noirish and surreal, with an atmosphere reminiscent at times of the novels of Murukami.

What is left out of Tomoo Gokita's paintings are as evocative as what is depicted, and a sense of nostalgia infects much of the work, be it for the American popular culture of the 1950s or the hairstyles of the 1970s. Other works are abstract, and his improvisatory approach to painting could classify him as a contemporary abstract expressionist—although he is also influenced by the work of David Salle. Abstract objects, often jumbled together in a huge heady swirl, appear to have character, while organic objects, such as bodies, fruit, flowers, are stolid and somewhat inert. Some paintings appear recognizable at first glance, then you are not so sure, and the titles do little to clarify the content. Instead they enter into a dialog with the work that enriches, without in any way facilitating, the viewer's quest for meaning, which feels a little like trying to see clearly when drunk, or seeing patterns in a Rorschach. Other paintings merge the figurative and abstract in a single figure. Women's heads, or upper bodies, are often replaced by an anonymous pile of matter. It is as if the artist is playing a game of exquisite corpse with himself, or else suddenly drifted off into doodling mid-painting. The doodles have a meticulousness about them, while figurative images have the quality of doodles.

Tomoo Gokita was born in Tokyo, Japan. As well as solo shows in New York, Tokyo and Kyoto, his work has featured in a number of group exhibitions in Japan and the United States. Publications of his works include Oh! Tengoku (2001) and Lingerie Wrestling (2000). He was awarded the Gold Prize at the Art Director's Club 80th Annual Awards, New York.