"The picture is in motion from the moment the eye turns into an ear. For whom? For what? I don't know. I wait for 'silliness' which lurks behind a kind of fermented unconscious, such as the act of eating a picture or putting a paintbrush in one's ear."
Her face a swirling profusion of colorless ombré bubbles, her tousled hair a chain of interlocking brushstrokes, Tomoo Gokita’s Juliet stares blindly—if she stares at all—far out beyond the picture plane, somewhere over the viewer’s shoulders, like a black and white high school yearbook photo melting in a microwave on the moon. Gokita’s approach to portraiture is delightfully mysterious. Reductive in palette, destructive in subject, his paintings appear alien, haunting and haunted, yet somehow deeply familiar. Is Juliet a riff on Shakespeare’s most famous star-crossed lover, or an anonymous ghostly figment of the artist’s imagination? The friction of these possibilities gives the work a cryptic simmer, its dark frisson of dreamy film noir vibes. Lifting equally from the aesthetic of vintage fetish photography à la Bettie Page and the desolate surrealistic wastelands of Yves Tanguy, Gokita remixes his retro visuals with the snarl of a computer glitch. Perhaps surprisingly, Gokita has established himself as one of the most popular painters of his generation. His penchant for throwback Lovecraftian dread notwithstanding, Gokita has keyed into the anxiety and tension of the twenty-first century, breathing a nervous kind of life into the mythic undead art of painting.