Unlike Slepian, Parker Ito may be too aware of his media. The paintings included in his show in the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery range in subject but all touch on internet clichés such as the I Can Has Cheeseburger lolcats and, as he titles her, “The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet,” a stock image of a blonde woman with a backpack that often appears next to advertisements on expired domains. In so doing, Ito delves into some of the pop cultural, web imagery and content that is so often considered standard and unquestionable. Bringing the images from jpeg format onto painted canvases he elevates their prestige to high art while also pointing out the inherent, resultant kitsch — they are still images of stock images. In this sense, Ito is more successful in his critique of perception than Slepian. Although he is not calling into question the tenants of modernism, he does address the discipline of painting through his use of appropriated, altered, overused subjects and his ability to easily copy, or in some cases, have someone else copy digital images into painted form. His role as artist becomes ambiguous (reminiscent of Kippenberger’s use of advertising painters to render subjects of his choosing), while also emphasizing the Internet’s expansion of access. Not only can you view a high-resolution digital image of an old master painting online but you can order a hand-painted copy of one, delivered express to your home.
For all intents and purposes, Ito’s examination is a thorough, thoughtful one but it does have its limits. At times, the work seems far more aesthetic than conceptual, a fetishism of the Internet’s sometimes naïve, lowest-common-denominator content and semiotics. In this sense, the show is aptly titled, as it seems that Ito’s real obsession is a formal, digital one.
- Ava Jancar
All images courtesy the artist andBackroom Gallery - Adobe Books.