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Press Release

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Bésame Mucho, an exhibition of new paintings by Tomoo Gokita opening April 11, 2015 and running through May 16, 2015.

On view will be new works by Tokyo-based Tomoo Gokita, who is acclaimed for his black and white gouache canvases that incorporate exceptional draftsmanship with surreal imagery. Gokita continues his monochromatic series that explores the traditional portrait format on a range of scales, using source material from vintage postcards, magazines, found photos, and classic film stills. With a celebrated career in illustration and graphic design, Gokita first rose to prominence after creating a series of newsprint books. In 2005, he turned to painting, developing a distinctive greyscale aesthetic that combines deft tonal modeling of figures with a material flatness, both alluding to and obscuring characters appropriated from western popular culture and marginal countercultural sources. Alongside Gokita’s intimate portraits of individuals, this exhibition will feature large-scale group compositions that are an evolution in the artist’s oeuvre.

Gokita places his subjects in ambiguous picture planes that recall the photographic source while also reinforcing the works’ status as painting. Mixing a range of twentieth century art historical references, Gokita distorts his subjects’ bodies and obfuscates their faces, blurring them with gradients and shapes. Hands become aberrant and outsize, and eyes are replaced with tiny dots. Rather than providing information about the sitters’ characteristics or social position as in traditional portraiture, Gokita works to avoid strict narratives and specific likenesses, opting instead to explore their archetypal aspects. With their identities obscured, the figures develop an uncanny, phantom-like quality. Recognizable configurations, such as the wedding party in How to Marry a Millionaire or family portrait in Happy Families, serve to accentuate complicated group dynamics.

Tomoo Gokita (b. 1969) lives and works in Tokyo. Honor Fraser Gallery has presented two exhibitions featuring Gokita’s work to date: Heaven (2009) and Vanity Drunko (2007). In 2014 Gokita was the subject of the large-scale solo exhibition, Tomoo Gokita: The Great Circus at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in Sakura, Japan. His work has also been included in such thematic shows as Wonderful My Art, Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Yamanashi, Japan (2013); The Unseen Relationship: Form and Abstraction, Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, Sakura (2012); Gateway: Japan, Torrance Art Museum, CA (2011); VOCA 2009: The Vision of Contemporary Art, Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo (2009); New York Minute, Macro Future Museum, Rome (2009); and Collected Visions, Pera Museum, Istanbul (2009).

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