I visited Tomoo Gokita last week at his studio. He is a father and a painter with a dynamic career, as evidenced by his current solo show at the Mary Boone Gallery. I met him for the first time in 2007, through my friend Kathy Grayson, who was writing an article about him for The Journal magazine, and I went to shoot a portrait at his studio. I was just moving back to Tokyo, from New York City, and I remember he was such a fun person to chat with, lacking any “arty” or pretentious attitude. He hadn’t yet had a big solo show, so it’s been truly thrilling to watch his career soar over the past seven years.
I like Tomoo (and his work!) because he’s not overly eager for success. But of course he is a hard worker. Maybe he is too good at not showing his face? He told me Mary saw his work for the first time, at KAWS’ house, only a year ago, and asked him for this solo show. Now he is getting ready for his first retrospective exhibition at the Kawamura museum this summer.
We talked about art and coming to New York, below.
That was such good news about your latest show! Did you enjoy doing it?
It was great, but very cold weather. I don’t speak much English, [and] I wanted to communicate more with people.
Wouldn’t the language barrier make it better—that way you seem like a mysterious artist? How was working in New York?
I arrived [in] New York a week ago, but met Mary just one day before the opening. I was asking her, “When [does] the install start?” But she kept telling me, “Wait a minute.” When I came to the gallery, I was greeted with applause by everyone. That was like the show, and that made me feel finally “got” in Gotham. She is good at pleasing the artist.
Remember when I came to your studio for the first time? It’s only been seven years since then.
I know, I can’t believe it myself. It’s almost like a joke, right?
The show is on display at the Mary Boone Gallery through March 1.
Photos: Courtesy of Kazumi Asamura Hayashi