Saucy Girl

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Bill Brady Gallery, Miami
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Miami, Bill Brady Gallery, Tomoo Gokita: DAMAGE CONTROL, 30 November 2015 - 9 January 2016

  • Catalogue Essay

    Tomoo Gokita’s signature monochrome paintings typically draw upon an assortment of distinctive, kitschy pop-culture motifs ranging from pin-up girls to cowboys and Mexican wrestlers. Images appropriated from a variety of sources, including television, advertising and pornography, are deconstructed with a series of deftly-applied smudges, distortions and gestures that render the faces and forms of Gokita’s subjects unrecognisable yet uncannily familiar.

    Once considered an outsider by the Japanese art establishment, who struggled to accept his cryptic use of low-brow cultural imagery and background as a commercial illustrator, Gokita’s breakthrough came in 2005 when a curator’s chance encounter with Gokita’s book Lingerie Wrestling (2000) in a museum shop led to his inclusion in the New York group show “Stranger Town”. The renowned American critic Roberta Smith profiled the then-unknown Japanese artist: “One of the show’s high points is the stunning wall devoted to drawings in charcoal, ink or pencil by Tomoo Gokita […] Mr. Gokita’s vocabulary barrels across illustration, pornography, abstraction, children’s drawing, calligraphy and sign-painting, with a perfect control, velvety surfaces and tonal range that makes black-and-white feel like living color” (‘Invading Genres Breach the Art World's Porous Borders’, The New York Times, 9 March 2005, online).

    Saucy Girl was unveiled at the artist’s solo show “DAMAGE CONTROL” in 2015, his second show at New York’s Bill Brady Gallery. The femme fatale is a familiar archetype of art and literature – seductive, mysterious, morally ambiguous – and perhaps the most famous actress of the Hollywood film noir age was Veronica Lake, whose cascading ‘peekaboo blonde’ hairstyle became a visual shorthand for the actress herself as well as the character of the femme fatale. This image carries the same enduring symbolic potency today, an ironic contrast to the actress herself, whose career ground to a halt just a few years after its peak. Fascinated particularly by images found in 1960s and 1970s erotica, and encouraged by his open-minded father, a designer working on advertising layouts for Playboy magazine, Gokita explained:

    I don’t know why, but I have a tendency to be strongly attracted by photographs and images of women appearing in those books and magazines that were printed in the days when the printing techniques were still poor. Those images stimulate my motivation for creation. (the artist, quoted in Steven Cox, ‘Tomoo Gokita Interview’, Hunted Projects, 2013, online)

    Saucy Girl showcases a mastery of texture, contrast and tone honed in Gokita’s early works on paper and various commercial projects. The immediacy of Gokita’s bold, evocative draftsmanship is tempered by voluptuous monochrome gradations that suffuse the surface of the canvas with a startlingly luminous, velvety quality. Gokita is described as “a polymath of drawing mediums and styles” by Roberta Smith, whose “undeniably rich” paintings “pack an unsettling visual punch” (‘Tomoo Gokita: “Out of Sight”’, The New York Times, 20 October 2016, online).

    Gokita’s work echoes that of British Pop artist Richard Hamilton, whose My Marilyn (1966) featured a contact sheet of publicity stills of Hollywood pin-up Marilyn Monroe, which the star had herself marked up to indicate where her body needed to be retouched. Hamilton carried out a series of modifications, in one shot painting over her body altogether, her whited-out bikini-clad silhouette becoming a poignant visual symbol for the actress and the larger-than-life ‘blonde bombshell’ role she played throughout her life.

    In both these works we find the female protagonists mutely alluring, yet their faceless denial of the male gaze injects a surreal and alarming tension to the works. Gokita adroitly walks the line between indulging the comfort of the familiar and slyly inflicting the sharp shock of the unexpected. As a result, Saucy Girl is at once contemporary, nostalgic and timeless, a testament to an artist who continues to defy the conventions of artistic practice today.

    Gokita’s work continues to gather critical and artistic acclaim. Today Gokita is represented by several prominent international art galleries, including Blum & Poe (New York) and Taka Ishii Gallery (Tokyo). His work has gained further institutional recognition over the past five years, with important solo museum shows at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (“THE GREAT CIRCUS”) in 2014 and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (“PEEKABOO”) in 2018.

  • Catalogue Essay

    五木田智央的標誌性黑白繪畫選材通常來自各種鮮明、豔俗的流行文化中之圖案,從海報女郎,到牛仔,以及墨西哥摔角手等。通過對包括電視、廣告,以及色情內容等各種來源的圖像進行提取,再熟練地以模糊化、變形,以及動態素描等一系列方式進行解構,使畫中人物的臉部和身形變得難以辨識,卻又讓人覺得不可思議的似曾相識。Brady畫廊的第二個展覽。人們在藝術和文學中所熟悉的蛇蠍美人這一原型——撩人、神秘、意味不明——也許好萊塢黑色電影時代最著名的女演員維若妮卡·蕾克,其如瀑布般傾瀉在額前的「金髮瀏海」既成為她本人的醒目標誌,也成為蛇蠍美人這一角色的代名詞。這個形象至今仍擁有歷久不衰的象徵性,諷刺的是,這位女演員的職業生涯卻在數年短暫的巔峰後邁向了停滯。五木田對1960和1970年代的色情圖像尤為迷戀,並受到開明的父親影響。 (曾任職《花花公子》雜誌的廣告排版設計師),藝術家解釋說:

    我也不明所以,過往印刷技術還不進步時,所出版的書籍和雜誌中出現的女性照片及圖像總是很吸引我。那些圖像激發了我創作的動力。(藝術家,引自Steven Cox,《五木田智央採訪》,《Hunted Projects》, 2013年,截自網路)

    《俏皮的女郎》展現了五木田在早期紙上作品以及各類商業項目中所達到的;對質地、對比度和色調的精通。五木田大膽、令人驚艷之繪圖技巧中所蘊含的即時性,在其眩惑的多變單色下變得柔和,這種單色漸層以一種驚人的明亮、天鵝絨般的質感充滿了畫布表面。五木田被Roberta Smith稱為「繪畫媒介和風格上的博學家」,其繪畫作品「無可否認的豐富性」「充滿了讓人不安的視覺衝擊力」(《五木田智央:眼不見》,《紐約時報》,2016年10月20日,截自網路)。

    五木田的作品呼應了英國波普藝術家理查德·漢密爾頓的作品《我的瑪麗蓮》(1966年),該作品中展現了好萊塢名人瑪麗蓮·夢露於劇照的底片印樣中,親自對自己身體需要修圖的部分做了標記。漢密爾頓進行了一系列的修飾,於其中一張照片裡將她全身塗滿,她那被塗成全白的、身穿比基尼的輪廓,讓這位一生都在扮演叫人印象深刻的「金髮女郎」形象之女演員成為一個動人的視覺符號。

    在兩件作品中我們都可以發現女主人沈著的誘惑力,然而她們面部的缺失體現出對男性凝視的否決,為作品注入了超現實和讓人無法忽略的張力。五木田巧妙地遊走於: 由熟悉所產生的舒適感之放任,並狡黠地製造由意外所導致的強烈震驚之間。由此,《俏皮的女郎》既是當代的,又是懷舊和永恆的,是藝術家不斷與當今之藝術創作的慣例進行抗衡的證明。

    五木田的作品在不斷獲得評論與藝術性上的讚譽。如今,他由幾家著名的國際藝術畫廊代理,其中包括紐約 Blum & Poe 畫廊,以及東京 Taka Ishii 畫廊。他的作品在過去的五年中得到藝術機構的進一步認可,其中包括2014年在DIC川村紀念美術館(〈偉大的馬戲團個展〉)和2018年在東京歌劇城美術館(“PEEKABOO”)都舉辦了的重要的美物館個展。

  • Artist Bio

    Tomoo Gokita

    Japanese • 1969

    Best known for grey-scale paintings that combine abstract and figurative elements, Tomoo Gokita is one of the most internationally prominent contemporary Japanese artists. His signature works feature archetypal figures or groups with their faces obscured, evoking haunting film stills or magazine spreads. Gokita enrolled in a local art school in 1988, but dropped out two years later to pursue a career in graphic design. Though he found success as a designer in the Japanese music industry, he felt creatively stifled and returned to painting full-time in the mid 1990s. 

    Similar to the way Gerhard Richter used photographs as a starting point for abstraction, Gokita combines visual references from found imagery with his stylized approach, creating portraits that are both rooted in memory and rich in painterly expression. His precise technique, often characterized by abstract flourishes and gestural swipes, can be traced to influence from New York’s Neo-Expressionists. In this playful manipulation of form, Gokita injects a sense of humor into his work, warping the archetypal into the absurd. Gokita has been the subject of multiple solo exhibitions at many prominent museums and galleries, including the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in Sakura, Japan. The artist continues to live and work in Tokyo.

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Property of an Important Private Collector

Saucy Girl

2015
signed, titled and dated '"SAUCY GIRL" Tomoo Gokita 2015' on the reverse
acrylic gouache on canvas
162.6 x 129.5 cm. (64 x 51 in.)
Executed in 2015.

Estimate
HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 
€232,000-349,000
$256,000-385,000

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019