On Parker Ito

Olivia Barrett, gallerist, Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles


Why won’t he give any interviews?

Parker is an artist who makes works entirely in motivated by his subjectivity and impulses; the phenomenological exchange that takes place between his consciousness and how he encounters ideas, images, or any other kind of transmission. Everything you need in Parker's work is within the work itself. His refusal of interviews is a refusal to over-narrativize himself or to conflate his personality and the work. These are distinct. Humans are complicated and he believes his art is something that he can't completely account for.

About his methods

In every period of Parker's work he tends to re-engineer a method of working that serves his instincts and whatever is conceptually underwriting that moment of his practice.

A Lil' Taste of Cheeto in the Night (2015) was an exhibition that was performing a glut of information – an uncontainable deluge of images that had arisen from Internet browsing and web 2.0. This has a very specific sensorial effect that he was trying to give shape to through an installation. Necessarily, to make an exhibition about 'everything' (or rather, streams of information that aren't necessarily logical or organized) he has to employ many assistants to paint and many fabricators to achieve sculptural elements. There was hand-painting and mechanical painting in this show, as well as overprinting, and for this to capture the disunited aesthetic of Internet browsing, he had to hire skilled painters who could move through different styles.

He is an incredibly intentional artist and fastidious in his attention to not just individual works, but the dramaturgy of exhibitions and then after the exhibition, also the documentation.

Olivia Barret with friend at the Parker Ito opening night at CFHILL. Photo: David Thunander

Olivia Barret with friend at the Parker Ito opening night at CFHILL. Photo: David Thunander

He describes his website as a kind of masterwork, or a hub where everything is eventually fed back into and kept animated in perpetuity.

The motifs in the current exhibition

Nearly all of the paintings at CFHILL post-date A Lil' Taste of Cheeto in the Night and mark a distinctive pivot in his practice. Again, it's important to understand these intentional but quite intuitive shifts that Parker instigates in the work.  After this, he wanted to make works that didn't rely on assistants or fabricators and that were based on images he captured. This is when he started to capture these still life scenes from his apartment in Hollywood. He has captured thousands of these images with only some being deployed into paintings. It's a frequent practice that speaks to interiority, whereas Cheeto was focused on an output of exteriority.

The Western Exterminator mascot is a figure that is geographically specific to transit routes in Southern California, an environment that has distinctly conditioned Ito’s perception and output.

Exhibition view: ‘Citronbiskvier’ – Parker Ito at CFHILL.

Exhibition view: ‘Citronbiskvier’ – Parker Ito at CFHILL.

Ito doesn’t summon this figure’s cultural or historical meanings; he embraces it as a vessel for circulation. Populating the sides of freeways and branded vehicles, it sits in your periphery as you circulate this network and it also travels through the network. The Western Exterminator figure speaks to the surfeit of information that we endlessly encounter and the peripheral dumping ground of perception that so much of this material lands in.

In this sense, Ito’s Western Exterminator bronzes behave similarly as the ‘parked domain girl’, the pixelated subject of his oil painting The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet (2014). Being exhibited for the first time, this painting is the final offering in a series that Ito retired in 2014, having made works within this framework since 2010.

The Western Exterminator and the ‘parked domain girl’ are indicators of transit, of moving between nodes in a network, of the wide expanse of physical and mental activity that is traced between the distilled events of a life or practice.