Alex Ito

Alex Ito @ AA|LA reviewed

30 September 2016

One of the more intriguing and unique aspects of the LA art scene is the multitude of spaces in which art is shown. Often these galleries (white cube, a friend’s garage, or otherwise) serve as a neutral backdrop for whatever show exists within them. Smooth, whitewashed walls and forgettable floors comprise the gamut of exhibition venues. Alex Ito’s Act I: The Crucible’s Nest, running at Los Angeles’ AA|LA September 10 to October 22, opposes this unspoken standard, and in doing so opens up a dialogue all its own.

The New York-based artist ruptures expectation by interrupting the ‘norm’ of art environments. This lends itself to his show, with its main concept centered on conventions and aesthetic perception, as well as the multiple and commercial production of objects of ‘beauty’. Preceding a sequential exhibition, Act II, happening at Baltimore’s Springsteen gallery in mid-October, Act I: The Crucible’s Nest sticks to its title. The gallery space becomes a melting pot of points and counterpoints, a safe place to be uncomfortable and question how we see and exist around art.

Alex Ito, Act I: The Crucible’s Nest (2016). Installation view. Courtesy the artist + AA|LA, Los Angeles.
Alex Ito, Act I: The Crucible’s Nest (2016). Installation view. Courtesy the artist + AA|LA, Los Angeles.

One of the more glaring landmarks of Ito’s show is the brand new, sand-colored industrial carpet laid out on the floor. This office-grade, acrylic textile literally creates a platform of falsity upon which the exhibition exists. The strong smell of plastic permeates, enhancing the already bizarre and off-kilter pieces on display.

‘My Mirror My Cage’ (2016) is a recognisable artefact — a white leather recliner. Situated in an otherwise lonely corner of the gallery, it is punctured in a number of places by thin steel rods. The rods, though not overtly violent, render the chair unusable — making it impossible for someone to sit comfortably in it, stripping the sculpture of its utilitarian associations. Reflecting this piece are two sculptural pieces, drilled directly into the carpet. ‘Ghost Rack I & II’ (2016) exist as delicate yet immovable tree-like fixtures. Off several protruding metal ‘arms’ hang the taxidermy bodies of white mice, caught in moments of suspenseful distress as they appear to hang on for dear life. Also mirroring below are  rodent-sized, blown glass sculptures with similar formal qualities to the dead mice, but abstracted beyond confident recognition.

Ito’s sculpture ‘Crucible’s Nest’ (2016) is made in the likeness of a coffee table. Atop its surface, trapped beneath a standard pint glass, we come across another example of the by now repeated taxidermy mice. Literally caught in a corner, the mouse is across the low, black wood table from a clear glass decanter, filled with an opaque black liquid. This decanter, simultaneously decorative and unnerving is emulated in the series of paintings hanging along the gallery walls.

Alex Ito, 'My Mirror, My Cage' (2016). Install view. Courtesy the artist + AA|LA, Los Angeles.
Alex Ito, ‘My Mirror, My Cage’ (2016). Install view. Courtesy the artist + AA|LA, Los Angeles.

Each large painting features the same glass vessel we see in ‘Crucible’s Nest’ (2016), filled with the black substance. Hand-painted and identical in shape and size, we pick up again on the theme of multiplicity, reproduction and how these facts permeate art and commercial art markets. The differences between each painting lies in the text superimposed over the decanters. The bold letters form abstract sentences, making the entire series of paintings come across as a monotonous and eerily violent advertisement-like body of work.

The pieces in Act I… blend together on the almost blinding beige carpet, and unanimously create an uneasy dialogue surrounding the quixotic standards of beauty and ideas of comfort. The show itself comes across as a staged home interior from hell, where nothing feels quite right. This uneasiness holds power over its viewer, as you’re unable to escape the permeating sense of disgust and unsettled aesthetic. It’s a complex cooperation of concepts and media, leaving viewers on edge and inexplicably eager to see where the conversation might go in Act II.**

Exhibition photos, top right.

Alex Ito’s Act I: The Crucible’s Nest running at Los Angeles’ AA|LA September 10 to Oct 22, 2016.

Header image: Alex Ito, ‘Ghost Rack II’ (2016). Installation detail. Courtesy the artist + AA|LA, Los Angeles.

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Young Americans (2015) exhibition photos

26 May 2016

Organized by Irene Gludowacz and curated by Cornelis van Almsick, Young Americans was on at Vienna’s Franz Josefs Kai 3, running from Nov 17 until Nov 30, 2015. Bringing together eight young artists from the US whose work is intimately connected to digital technologies —including Petra CortrightLuis GispertAlex ItoKen OkiishiTimur Si-QinCarter MullRyan Trecartin and Kaari Upson — the exhibition responds to the feeling of rapid change as a result of the internet and new media.

Alex Ito, 'No Title' (2015) Install view. Courtesy the artist and Franz Josefs Kai 3, Wien.
Alex Ito, ‘No Title’ (2015) Install view. Courtesy the artist and Franz Josefs Kai 3, Vienna.

Through installation, photography and video art, the works focus on the underbelly of digital narrative and the alienation that lies beneath the confident branding and flashy aesthetics. The show is accompanied with a text written by Arielle Bier that unpacks the capitalist facade, framing the artists work within the “realities of rising poverty rates, institutionalized violence, and impending environmental collapse.”

An object-heavy exhibition, the materiality has a strong relationship with the digital. Ito’s ‘No Title’ (2015) series of taxidermy mice feel inspired by memes and the humanization of animals on the net, but their physical presence looks nightmarish. Cortright’s 29-second ‘sssss//////^^^^^^^‘ (2011) video is taken from her YouTube channel, a silent video where her face slowly slips across the screen; a recognition of her own face holds more importance than dialogue. The works of Young Americans look at the space between emptiness and wholeness, and the destabilizing ground our identities are fixed to.**

Exhibition photos, top right.

The Young Americans group exhibition was on at Vienna’s Franz Josefs Kai 3, running November 17 to 30, 2015.

Header image: Ryan Trecartin (2015) Install view. Photo by Simon Veres.Courtesy the artist and Franz Josefs Kai 3, Vienna.

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Alex Ito @ The Still House Group, Oct 9 – Nov 6

8 October 2015

Alex Ito opens a new solo exhibition in NYC this week with Cloud Nine, running at The Still House Group from October 9 to November 6.

The New York-based artist pairs up with the artist-run organization for his second show with The Still House Group, having already participated in their rotating residency program.

For Cloud Nine, Ito confronts the delusional “positivity of progress” at the root of the utopian impulse, creating sculptures and wall-hung works that explore the promises of vanity, success and joviality found in corporate images.

There is currently no exhibition page for this show. **

Ito_Cloud_Nine_install1 copy

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Alex Ito + Greg Ito @ Et Al, Sep 25 – Oct 31

25 September 2015

Alex Ito and Greg Ito are presenting joint exhibition The Order of Shadowboxing at San Francisco’s Et Al., opening September 25 and running to October 31.

Based in New York and Los Angeles respectively, the two artists will explore Descarte’s idea of “I think therefore I am” in the context of a perceived ‘inertia’ in oppositional forces dictating politics and the “phantom will”.

Working within their own distinct disciplines -whether it’s Alex Ito’s digitally printed portraits and a three-dimensional maquette or Greg Ito’s paintings and sculpture -each artist’s interests intersect at a preoccupation with intimacy at its core, either a corporately homogenised concept of one, or the “seduction of the romantic narrative”.

See the Et Al page for details.**

Alex Ito and Greg Ito, The Order of Shadowboxing (2015). Installation view. Courtesy the artists and Et. Al, San Francisco.
Alex Ito and Greg Ito, The Order of Shadowboxing (2015). Installation view. Courtesy the artists and Et. Al, San Francisco.
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Single Image @ Steve Turner Contemporary, Jan 4

30 December 2013

New York-based artists Brendan Lynch and Alex Ito are presenting a joint exhibition, Single Image, at LA’s Steve Turner Contemporary, running  January 4 to February 8, 2014.

Taking a found photo of a sheet billowing in the wind, the two artists make installations, paintings and sculptures inspired by said banal image to maximise the imagination required by each artist in an attempt to present “open scripts” of interpretation for its viewers. A laptop, text, plaster and office materials abound, while a painting by Lynch’s brother will surely bring questions of authorship, as well as ‘art as interaction’, into play.

See the Steve Turner Contemporary website for details. **

Alex Ito, ‘Ocean Waves (between a rock and a goodbye)’ (2013).

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