Tomoo Gokita – Peekaboo @Opera City Gallery (五木田智央)
Tomoo Gokita — The Hottest Painter Today
Tomoo Gokita started out his artistic career in illustration, garnering inspiration from 1960s and 1970s American subculture, underground magazines and photography. His innovative ideas and his technique of freely constructing his pictures as if he were creating a collage form the starting point not only for his early drawing work, but for all of Gokita’s most notable creations up to the present day.
His works, rendered primarily in a monochrome palette, radiate a sense of the myriad possibilities born of the diverse expressive means at his disposal. Carefully calculated use of gradation and shadows create a slick, fashionable allure, the contrast between simple lines and irregular, distorted shapes provide humorousness and nostalgia, and the journeys between the representational and the abstract give his imagery a powerful ambivalence. In particular, the suggestive and mysterious images and situations he chooses help catalyse the possibilities inherent in his visual argot, appealing irresistibly to the viewers’ imaginations and beckoning them inside his unique world.
The painting selected for the exhibition poster, entitled Come Play with Me, is a new work created by Gokita for this occasion. In total, the exhibition comprises around 40 artworks, including a large installation, and about half are new works presented for the first time. We also exhibit two of the new works Gokita unveiled at his solo exhibition in Hong Kong of January this year.
Most of these paintings were produced intensively over a period of less than six months, beginning last autumn. As well as providing eloquent proof of Gokita’s creative vitality, the canvases allow viewers to see, in diluted, essential form, the kind of paintings Gokita is focusing on now.
Wrestling and Music
It is widely known that Tomoo Gokita is a huge wrestling fan, and this exhibition includes his series of portraits of beloved wrestlers, painted in record sleeve format. Executed between 2002 and 2018 and numbering 225 in total, each of the sleeves features the wrestler’s name, portrait and the title of a well-known music track. The tracks range widely — from jazz standards of bygone days to American hit songs from the 50s onwards — but there is no essential connection between them and the featured wrestler, and often the outlandish combinations induce a smile. As works which directly reflect two of the artist’s favourite things, wrestling and music, these sleeves are a must-see.