A Tokyo graphic designer turned artist, Tomoo Gokita has been exhibiting around the world since 2005, recognized as a standout for his Pop-Surrealist style of rendering figures in a palette of black, white and gray. His solo debut at Mary Boone presents 15 new paintings that depict tough guys and bimbos straight out of pulp fiction or Hollywood noir. Blurring the boundary between abstraction and figuration, Gokita morphs his characters from recognizable to bizarre in a split second.
Secret Gesture features a seated woman whose face has been completely wiped away, replaced with a black void occupied only by two dots, representing her eyes peering out of the darkness. In Captive Bunny, the head of a dapper gent serves as the outline for a zigzagging pattern; next to him, a Playboy Bunny’s features devolve into a fat heap of brushstrokes suggesting bulbous, fleshy forms. Likewise, Daughter of a Fraudster captures the melting countenance of a movie gangster, while the subject of A Woman Who Eats a Lot turns to the side, her hand seamlessly blending into a profile scrubbed of detail. Comical yet frightening, Gokita’s perverse portraiture packs a considerable punch.—Paul Laster