Tomoo Gokita - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Phillips

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  • "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." — Roberta Smith



    One of the most internationally prominent contemporary Japanese artists, Tomoo Gokita has carved out an outstanding career as illustrator, painter and graphic designer. Ultimately quitting his successful career as a graphic designer in the Japanese music industry in the mid-1990s, feeling his creativity was being stifled, Gokita returned to drawing and painting full-time. Gokita is renowned for his greyscale paintings that portray familiar archetypal characters from popular culture, disrupted and infused with his playful sense of humour. Using visual references from found imagery, Gokita incorporates Neo-Expressionistic gestures and brushstrokes to manipulate form, recalling the work of New York Neo-Expressionist artists such as Julian Schnabel, often masking or obliterating the faces of his characters with a smear of paint. Trust Us is a significant work from his visually striking second solo exhibition at Mary Boone Gallery in New York, entitled Out of Sight (10 September – 29 October 2016), which was met with great critical acclaim. In Out of Sight, Gokita introduces a range of fictional characters, from playboy bunnies to gangsters, constructing a distinctly character-driven narrative within his works. The masked archetypes of Trust Us represent a stereotypical 1950s American nuclear family, depicted in an arresting, graphic tonality, that ranges from neon, pristine whites to silky blacks.
    The present work exhibited in Tomoo Gokita’s Out of Sight exhibition at Mary Boone Gallery, New York (10 September – 29 October 2016)

    Trust Us

    Gokita adroitly walks the line between indulging the comfort of the familiar and slyly inflicting the sharp shock of the unexpected with his unrecognisable yet uncannily familiar subjects. Trust Us overturns the familiar stereotype of the 1950s suburban nuclear family studio portrait. Once one might have been comforted by the trustworthy, indulgent smiles of a close-knit American family, the patriarch dressed in suit and tie, his wife tilted towards him with her perfectly blow-dried coiffure, and their darling daughter posed between them in her freshly-ironed Peter Pan collared blouse. Instead, the viewer is confronted by an aggressively mute family, their faceless denial of their audience injecting a surreal and alarming tension to the works. The chilling rictus grin of their daughter, the only human expression that remains, indicates that the invitational ‘trust us’ is in fact a timely warning.  

    Studio portrait of a family in 1950s
    Contemporary, nostalgic and timeless, Gokita’s works continue to defy the conventions of artistic practice today. With a mastery of texture, contrast and tone honed in Gokita’s early works on paper and various commercial projects, Trust Us showcases Gokita’s bold, evocative draftsmanship and voluptuous monochrome gradations that suffuse the surface of the canvas with a startlingly luminous, velvety quality.
    Julian Schnabel, Large Girl With No Eyes, 2001. Copyright 2020 Julian Schnabel

    Collector's Digest

    Gokita’s unique and varied works can be found in books, magazines, galleries and museums around the world. After his first solo show in New York in 2006, Gokita has exhibited his works in solo exhibitions internationally, including THE GREAT CIRCUS at Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, Sakura, in 2014 and PEEKABOO at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, in 2018. Recently, the artist presented his solo show, Game Over at Massimo De Carlo, Milan (4 March - 22 July 2020), followed by MOO at Taka Ishii Gallery, in Tokyo (28 August - 26 September 2020), an exclusive look at his new colour paintings, demonstrating the constant evolution of his work.
    • Provenance

      Mary Boone Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Mary Boone Gallery, Tomoo Gokita: Out of Sight, 10 September - 29 October 2016


Trust Us

signed, titled and dated '"TRUST US" Tomoo Gokita 2016' on the reverse
acrylic and gouache on canvas
194 x 259 cm. (76 3/8 x 101 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2016.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for HK$2,520,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 3 December 2020