Tomoo Gokita - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Exhibited

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    In his signature monochrome paintings, Tokyo-based artist Tomoo Gokita draws upon traditions of portraiture, photo-realism, and Pop art, creating canvases that are at once luxuriously seductive yet eerily disquieting. Gokita began as a graphic designer in the late 1990s, and continued working in this field until 2005, when he abandoned graphic design altogether in favor of a fulltime career as a studio artist. Undeniably inspired by his former career, Club Mature from 2015, hails from Gokita’s mature body of work. In these paintings, Gokita culls found imagery from classic film stills, Playboy magazines, and pinup posters, rendering his subjects in a lush range of greyscale. In the present lot, four scantily clad, voluptuous women are seated in an ambiguous setting, which is somewhat elucidated by the painting’s cheeky title, Club Mature. The women appear to be looking out at the viewer, yet their faces are shrouded by a neo-expressionistic haze of smeared paint. The resulting image is psychologically charged, as the artist blurs, obscures and erases facial features and expressions, lending an unsettling anonymity to his subjects. The scene is made all the more seductive by the artist’s expert use of light, as intense blacks contrast with bright whites, and a dramatic, chiaroscuro-esque lighting likens the painting to a film noir. In 2017, Gokita debuted a series of new portrait paintings titled Mature, as part of his solo exhibition, Beauty, at Mary Boone Gallery in New York. Club Mature is a precursor to this series, in which Gokita continues to explore the theme of aging pinup models as unconventional, fetishized objects of desire.

    Operating within a larger tradition of artists who preceded him, Gokita explores the indistinct border between realism and abstraction. Like Gerhard Richter’s photo-realist canvases of the late 1960s, Gokita employs found imagery as a starting point, yet intentionally obscures and degrades the images through a masterful manipulation of paint. Executed at the height of Richter’s Pop period, Spanish Nudes, 1967, is emblematic of the artist’s signature hazy, photo-realist paintings in which he utilizes gradations of a single color and an allover blurring technique to achieve an array of visual effects. The subdued, subversive atmospheric quality of the work is decidedly enigmatic and distinct from those of his American Pop contemporaries such as Rosenquist and Warhol. Dietmar Elger, director of the Gerhard Richter Archive, posits, “in montages like Spanish Nude, Richter insists upon a distance between the female object and the observer. He sets up a kind of peep show, inviting the viewer to look and simultaneously frustrating the gaze through technique: the grisaille palette and soft blurring serve to defuse any erotic charge.” (Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago, 2009, p. 114) Executed nearly sixty years later, Club Mature can be understood through a similar lens. Like Richter, who blurs the picture to a point of intentional degradation, Gokita deliberately obscures his models’ faces, similarly “frustrating the gaze through technique.” In Club Mature, Gokita continues in Richter’s tradition, with a contemporary investigation of the challenges of representation and the role of the viewer in a style that is uniquely his own.


Club Mature

signed, titled and dated "CLUB MATURE Tomoo Gokita 2015" on the reverse
acrylic gouache on linen
76 x 102 in. (193 x 259.1 cm.)
Executed in 2015.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $807,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018