Tomoo Gokita was born in Tokyo in 1969. He is currently living and working in Tokyo.Read More
Gokita’s work is largely monochromatic and abstract, and has an incredible vitality and power that exudes from his half-formed figures, shapes and patterns. Even Gokita himself describes how he searches for a “silliness” to put into his pictures, adding to the dynamism of his crisp style of painting. Gokita is a man of many skills, turning his attention to music, publication and fashion. In his earlier days he was a graphic designer specialising in newsprint books, and it wasn’t until 2005 when he began painting on large-scale canvases with acrylic gouache.
With a love of drawing at least since he was in elementary school, Gokita cites Japanese and foreign artists as his artistic heroes. He began his illustration career by first designing a poster for a friend, but as he created more for magazines and publications, he became increasingly well known, thereby almost falling into his career by accident. By his mid-twenties however, he gradually became more dissatisfied with only drawing at the request of his clients, so he escaped to Mexico on a one-person journey. Gokita has a cult following from his art book called “Lingerie Wrestling” which was published in 2000. First championed by his American fans, his drawings were exhibited and republished in various art journals and magazines.
He began painting on canvases as he was asked to put on an exhibition, but not knowing what to show, he just approached the blank canvas with the two nearest paints which just so happened to be black and white. Without anything particular in mind, he just began painting and ended up with an incredible greyscale blending technique which features often in his work. Gokita adds that he is drawn to the scary, grotesque and erotic in his painting, and he finds his inspiration from all sorts of places, from newspapers to film pamphlets to old magazines.
In 2009 and 2010, Gokita exhibited works in shades of blue and also stencil work, harking back to his graphic design roots. He also has an impressive list of publications under his belt, including, “THE HAPPY PIG” published by Decathlon Books (2010); “CUM TO ME” published by Dynasty Zine (2010); “LUMEN #01” published by Artbeat Publishers Inc. (2006) and “Oh! Tengoku” also published by Artbeat Publishers Inc. (2001).
His skilled artwork shows just what can be achieved in black and white, and is more like a representation of a painting, or the idea behind a painting. Gokita’s figures and shapes loom out from their monochrome backgrounds as phantom characters, and it seems that he takes pleasure in challenging his audience to guess the meaning behind his obscured images.
In addition to his publications, Gokita has been involved in group and solo exhibitions all over the world, including Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, Sydney, London and Berlin. He had his first solo exhibitions in a public museum at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (Sakura, Japan, 2014). He has also participated in a number of high-profile group shows such as “Wonderful My Art” Kawaguchiko Museum of Art (Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, 2013); “The Unseen Relationship: Form and Abstraction” Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (Sakura, Japan, 2012); “Gateway: Japan” Torrance Art Museum (California, USA, 2011); “VOCA 2009: The Vision of Contemporary Art” The Ueno Royal Museum (Tokyo, 2009); “New York Minute” Macro Future Museum (Rome, 2009); “Collected Visions” Pera Museum (Istanbul, 2009).
Text by Rosemary Pennells
Text courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery.
Tomoo Gokita is an outsider among Tokyo art insiders. With his boyish charm, he is sociable yet reticent. He regularly declares his love for beer and professional wrestling—particularly the 1976 match between Japan’s Antonio Inoki and American champion boxer Muhammad Ali. He studies record-album covers rather than art catalogs. So when...
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.