Surrealisticism

01.27.144:20 PM ET

A Martian's Eye View of Modern Art

Tomoo Gokita paints worlds no one has seen.

"Mystic Revelation" is one of the deeply peculiar paintings by the Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita, now gettting his first solo at Mary Boone Gallery in New York. Gokita’s pictures feel like they were made by someone surveying the entire history of 20th-century art afresh, with no special attachment to any particular moments, and asserting no hierarchy between them. Normally, the idea that a work is “timeless” is both praise and empty cliche. Here “timelessness” yields anxiety, and a sense of a world out of whack. Even reference seems to float free: Are those ten appendages swollen fingers, or dreadlocks, or sea cucumbers? The surrealism in these pictures doesn’t seem to come from recombining what’s out in the world, so much as from not recognizing reality’s parts.

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