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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

     

    Introduction

     
    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

    • Artist Biography

      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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Trust Us

2016
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

Estimate
HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 
€217,000-325,000
$256,000-385,000

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