At first glance, the work of Tomoo Gokita has the appearance of collage work, but look a little closer and his deft painterly skill is revealed in this extraordinary series of noirish portraits, on display at Mary Boone Gallery in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood.
A master of monochrome, Tokyo artist Gokita plays on the themes of pulp fiction, drawing from its pages a cast of characters whose obscured identity creates a palpable air of mystery. His paintings are constructed with black gouache and white gesso and are a tour-de-force of textural and tonal manipulation, reminiscent of greyscale photocopies which have somehow lost none of the colour of the originals. The titles of the works – Showgirl, A Bathing Beauty, Cocktail Pianist from Acapulco, Daughter of a Fraudster – are as intriguing as the subjects themselves, who pose brazenly and yet remain hidden in deep shadow or behind dazzling glare. Skilful, surreal, and at times charmingly silly, Gokita’s shady goings-on are available to view until 1 March.