Dallas Contemporary is pleased to present Get Down, the first North American museum exhibition featuring the work of Tokyo-based artist Tomoo Gokita. This presentation will feature Gokita’s latest large-scale paintings, including a number of never-before-seen works made under lockdown during the pandemic.
While the artist first gained notoriety in 2005 for his monochromatic palette and grayscale figurative paintings, Gokita’s latest works illustrate a major departure for his practice. Launching into a vast world of vibrant pastels, the artist’s Dallas Contemporary exhibition presents familiar motifs of pin-up models, female wrestlers and familial portraiture alongside mundane symbols embedded in our current reality that now hedge on absurdism in the wake of the past year’s events.
Socially distanced individuals and the figure of former US President, Donald Trump, scatter throughout these works to further dismantle distinction between the surrealism of Gokita’s form and content. “What can I do in this pandemic? What will become of humanity?” asked the artist, speaking about this new body of work. “Ignoring such questions, I simply focused on painting.” Faceless, abstracted and newly shell-like, the artist’s subjects continue to draw from art historical traditions of Deconstruction, Neo-Expressionism and Post-War German Figuration. These influences produce unbalanced optical experiences and nearly inscrutable narratives that aim to unsettle their viewers’ visual and emotional perspectives. In Gokita’s world, idealized beauty and narrative are manipulated into bizarre distortion.
Gokita, who transitioned from illustration and graphic design to a formal artistic practice in the 1990s, has been the subject of acclaim within both Japanese subcultures and the international art circuit for nearly three decades. Prior to his transition, Gokita’s illustration work gained him popularity across the fashion and music industries. From the beginning of his career as an artist, his paintings and pencil and ink drawings have demonstrated a remarkable range of style, seamlessly subverting the dichotomy of abstraction and figuration to produce a practice of an unmistakable and psychological character.