Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Tokyo-based artist Tomoo Gokita, in his debut solo exhibition with the gallery, on view from September 14 to October 21, 2023 at Petzel’s Chelsea location. Works included mark a new era for Gokita, as he expands his practice toward innovative techniques and striking color palettes. Internationally renowned for pushing the boundaries of figuration, particularly in his high-contrast grayscale paintings, Gokita has shifted toward novel source imagery and materials.

The artist was struck by a booklet found near his studio of simple illustrations of everyday objects. Created for patients with dementia, these objects are used in an exercise that puts forward the question, “What is this?”. Gokita has developed this imagery to create colorful, fresh compositions. Influenced by Pop Art, kitsch aesthetics, and music, Gokita’s crafted canvases are covered with multiple layers of paper for the first time, including paper sleeves of various vinyl records into the layers of his paintings. In doing so, the artist connects his latest series of paintings to a natural fluidity that underscores his versatile drawing practice. The hand-made ethos of his layered canvases also reflects Gokita’s longstanding affinity for vintage magazines and pulpy, printed ephemera, with his own Neo-expressionist, abstracted twist.

Across this suite of recent paintings, Gokita appropriates this mnemonic exercise, in which elderly patients with dementia are asked to recall the name of an object with the image, just as children often are. In this way, the artist bridges the chasm between the signifier and the signified in these vibrant, evocative creations while playing with varying levels of contact: the physicality of layered paper on canvas, the familiarity of his subjects, and the foundations of signification itself. Approaching these paintings, the viewer brushes the moment of discovery, akin to Gokita’s chance encounter outside his studio, through engagement with his refined, exuberant impressions. Through both high and low, legible and concealed references, Gokita invites the audience to explore this liminal space and to ask themselves, “What is this?”