Tomoo Gokita - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Tomoo Gokita, 'Caroline', Lot 6

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 2 October 2019

  • Provenance

    ATM Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 2007, shortly after Tomoo Gokita had decided to pivot from illustration to painting, Caroline is an early example of the Japanese artist’s atmospheric painterly oeuvre. Doubtlessly informed by Gokita’s twenty-year experimentation with graphic illustration prior to becoming a painter in 2005, the composition depicts a faceless woman sitting on an invisible support, set against a seemingly boundless landscape of whites and grays. It quotes from an array of visual influences, including vintage photography, black and white film stills, and Playboy magazines – all of which have contributed in enriching Gokita’s body of work over time. A potent demonstration of Gokita’s talent in building a scene dislocated from time and space, and of propelling the genre of portraiture into the realm of the surreal, the present work draws the viewer into its pervasive, and impossible, centre of gravity, spanning stylistic iterations of Pop, Surrealism, Cubism, Japanese graphic design and neo-expressionist fervour.

    Though Gokita primarily paints people – groups, duos, or individuals – he seldom designates them or endows them with an identity. Caroline stands out as a named character within his opus, a feat which contrasts with the paradoxical masking of her face in thick layers of acrylic. With her outsized chin resting on one hand and her left arm reaching over her thigh, Caroline is reminiscent of Auguste Rodin’s Penseur from 1882, whose meditative pose is similarly embodied within an expressive posture. Yet unlike her sculptural predecessor, she seems to be directing her imperceptible gaze at the viewer straight-on, her round, obscured face positioned frontally with slim streaks of hair suggested on either side of her cheeks. At once familiar and elusive, noble and disquieting, Caroline draws from a pantheon of art historical references that together provide a context for her enigmatic portrait.

Property of an Important American Collector



signed, titled and dated '"Caroline" Tomoo Gokita 2007' on the reverse
acrylic on linen
145.4 x 111.8 cm (57 1/4 x 44 in.)
Painted in 2007.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £181,250

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+44 20 7318 4099


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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 October 2019