Where to begin? I suppose with the fact that Parker Ito is currently not doing interviews. Those who’ve followed his practice (and perhaps even those who haven’t) might interpret this as a somewhat surprising turn. After all, young Ito never shied away from provocative declarations broadcast across an array of platforms and through a number of highly stylized personas. Some of these guises eventually became formalized as visual motif, joining the other surrogates, doubles, stand-ins, and refracted self-reflections (physical, artistic, allegorical, and otherwise) that densely populate his work. My favorite incarnation remains the knightly Parker Cheeto, overseen by attendant parrots, seemingly exhausted by the Sisyphean task of envisioning an exhibition so unwieldy it had to colonize multiple spaces across cities and continents—or at least, that is how the artist conceptualized his total output from 2014 to 2015.

Tackled as discrete shows, this year-long undertaking also conjured various artistic roles: the Sunday painter whose amateurish still-lifes had their first taste of the sun in the neighborhood coffee shop in Prelude: Cheeto Returns (Rainbow Roses Still Lifes at Kaldi Coffee and Tea); the art student willfully hijacking the typically unused spaces of an Echo Park gallery, in Part 1: Parker Cheeto’s Infinite Haunted Hobo Playlist (A Dream to Some, a Nightmare to Others); and a blue chip ingénue pushing the limits of the white cube with increasingly fastidious demands, in Part 2: Maid in Heaven/ En Plein Air in Hell (My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Cheeto Problem). I would add to this a slew of other self-declensions, perhaps most notably the studio ringleader/chronic collaborator, who at times took the lead in creative decisions, while at others was happy to recede into the din of production. I have tried to keep track of this colorful cast, but invariably they seep into one another, lost in the overgrowth of LED lights and iridescent surfaces that framed the fullest articulation of the project, Part 3: A Lil’ Taste of Cheeto in the Night, presented in a warehouse on Grand Avenue in Los Angeles.

Over time, these shifting guises have provided both the crux and pitfall for a practice that exists through its own proliferation, leaving in its wake a series of objects—some of which could be qualified under the rubric of art, others more slippery in their becoming. Is this the byproduct of the Internet? Who’s to say— but one would be amiss for not crediting the Web’s elasticity for facilitating Parker’s beginnings. Take, for instance, (2010–2011) a loose online collective/club/company organized with like-minded peers Jon Rafman, Micah Schippa, Tabor Robak, and John Transue, who he met through social media. Using various graphics and painting softwares, they embarked on a game of digital exquisite corpse, building an archive of simulated painterly gestures that could be accessed as easily as Photoshop filters. There is much to be extracted from this protean exercise, particularly as it pertains to the shifting role of the computer screen. For me, it foregrounds the redefinition of “interface” from a point of contact with technology to a conduit onto other unique users. Here, the artist emerges as de facto collaborator, operating in a field where they are in a constant feedback loop with many equivalents. Ito embraced these conditions from the onset, testing out its manifold possibilities through the Paint FX output as well as the repeated outings with Aventa Garden—another loose configuration that’s also maybe a band (I was never really sure) with the artist duo Body by Body, comprised of Cameron Soren and Melissa Sachs. In this configuration, Ito/Cheeto becomes Deke2, the drummer.

Can’t keep track of the shuffle? I suspect that is largely the point. After all, the importance of these personas is not necessarily their family resemblance, but the position they outline: namely, the artist as profile, individuated by so many surface effects. Art historians will quickly point out this is far from a novel concept (insert your own favorite example here), but what remains prescient is how the Ito-Cheeto-Deke2 compound re-contextualizes questions of replication and authenticity within a set of historically specific conditions. Thus, the Internet rears its ugly head once again, but perhaps from a more nuanced vantage point where, in order to grasp its macro effects, one must contend with its micro-reconfigurations, specifically across questions of liquidity, asset building, and branding.

These issues are tackled explicitly in the series, The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet,* (2010–2013), or “Parked Domain Girl” for short. Developed as painterly memes, these works elaborate on the same, nondescript portrait of a female student wearing a backpack that was used by a parked domain company as a placeholder for unsold websites. The ubiquity of the image, combined with the exchanges and transactions she both elides and embodies, provided the starting point for open-ended variations that call attention to shifting models of artistic production, authorial intent, and the divorcing of personal images from their original referents. Ito is complicit in all of this, exploiting the meme as much as he unravels it, unearthing its backend history along the way. It turns out the mystery girl is the photographer’s sister, enlisted for an impromptu shoot to test out a new camera and unwittingly ending up as a freely-circulating caricature. The strong undercurrent of fetishism is evident in Parked Domain Girl’s repeated usages—but it also applies to Ito himself, who advances this process even as he collapses into it. In the end it is difficult to draw clear distinctions and he becomes her stand-in (rather than the other way around): a Net-y nymphet unwittingly circulating as a placeholder for unspecified value.

This conflation might be clearest in Parker Ito’s contentious relationship to the art market. Boasted as its champion or derided as a harbinger of its collapse, Parker has remained tethered to its ebb and flow in most critical discussions of his work. Granted, this is far from incidental, as his production model willfully undermines (or at least fucks with) the market’s standing currencies: deliberately hyper-producing, refusing to subscribe to the usual signs of authenticity (like signatures), or exploding them to monumental proportions until they too become another visual motif. It’s a tricky gamble, one whose stakes are raised by freely trafficking in editions and multiples, or by piling on the branded swag, including baseball hats, towels, amateur pottery, and other such marginalia that disrupts the sanctimonious space of painting. “I wish I could make a reflector painting for every person that ever asked me for one” was a favorite mantra regarding a particularly sought-after series. Followed to its logical conclusion, this certainly fueled consumption, but only at the risk of burning itself out.

Perhaps this aftermath is one way of approaching the latest exhibit, live from capital records, b.—i am not a human being I am a disgusting piece of shit at Château Shatto in Los Angeles. Deployed in six installments, the show has a general tone of evacuation, a ceremonial cleaning of the cache. First, there a series of piecemeal floral still lifes installed over Polaroids (the eclipsed snaps remnants of a long forgotten exercise recently rediscovered in the shuffle between studios). This gives way to other distilled gestures: a video, a tinted window, and a lonesome stainless steel sculpture, all of which materialized unexpectedly if only to announce their ghostly exit. For me, the most telling is Suit (2016), the second installment of the series, consisting of a sculpture made from a bespoke suit recently commissioned by the artist. Despite many fastidious fittings and custom touches it somehow never felt quite right, but it found a second life relegated to a hanger, suspended from a power cord, and filled with a latex bodysuit, the deflated outline where a body would be. On the floor below: an amassing of red shoes gathered over the last 10 years, each displaying various signs of wear. Some, like a prized pair of cardinal Adidas, activate a rush of tender memories for me, while a pair of maroon Chelsea boots strike me as curiously mute, standing in stark contradiction to the imagos I hold dear.

It might be tempting to read Suit as an act of contrition, or at least a relinquishing of the hazy fictions spun around a creamy dreamy center. But that endpoint strikes me as suspiciously resolute, as do the outward signs of its own authenticity. In a strange way, the encounter brings to mind an online interview with Jason Rhoades I once read. In it, he attempted to articulate the sensorial urgency of his installations: “I think people should be overwhelmed. I think it should shut you down; it should make you give up something.” Rhoades never makes the nature of that “something” particularly clear, but it occurs to me that at this moment Parker would have plenty to choose from.

-Franklin Melendez




Parker Ito was my second favorite living painter until 2011, when Cy Twombly died. Now he's my favorite living painter.

I guess my learning in the area of aesthetics is pretty elementary. It’s at least not advanced enough (or close enough to a particular kind) for my excitement with the painting medium to be renewed frequently. Every once in awhile, something comes along, like a Christ Pantocrator image painted with the feathers of tropical birds in central Mexico in the 16th century or a ten-painting series based on the Iliad, to interrupt my ongoing quiet tirade against the arbitrariness of the artistic tradition. Parker’s paintings represent a serious problem for my infantile philosophy.

Try to explain “Air to Surface” to your mom. Ito’s paintings for the collaborative show with Helen Johnson both mimic pointillism and “approximate the method of operation of an inkjet printer,” a tool that proved to be somewhat important for some of Ito’s previous works. Parker also likened the style of these paintings to the way that images are presented on computers using pixels. The result is more than just Monet.bmp, it’s a series of works that are visually unique, thought-provoking and, unpredictably, actually beautiful.

Try to explain “The Agony and the Ecstasy” to your mom. This solo show at STADIUM is my favorite work of Parker’s. Even now, the scope of the paintings shown seems monumental despite an almost shocking visual simplicity. Regretfully, the method is still a bit confusing to me; I know that he used some reflective material from 3M to create the works, and I know that he (his assistants?) painted on it. Parker himself describes the work as commentary on the emancipatory potential of the era’s social technology paired with the inescapable fragmentation of intimacy over the networks many of us use to communicate. The works are beautiful and undocumentable. To take a picture of one or even to change the lighting in the gallery or the angle from which you are viewing one presents the work in a new form. Parker makes a science out of painting, creating a uniquely curious feeling in the gallery that is replaced in online documentation by a different feeling entirely, more haunting and confusing. Even as the works themselves can appear muted and calm, their emotional resonance is rhapsodic and their interaction with the painting medium feels progressive.

Try to explain “Anime Bettie Page Fucked By Steampunk Horse Warrior” to your mom. The show’s titular painting can only be called such in that it displays painterly qualities; the image itself was assembled by Parker and friends by appropriating imagery from deviantART and other websites and getting a custom lycra print made of the finished picture. The method of making the “painting” seems to speak more effectively to Parker’s evocative goal in creating the work. Paired with the other works in the show (including video and sculpture), the painting comments with immediate humor and bold sexual directness on the relationship between counterculture and “fanboy-ism”/fringe communities on the internet. This painting renews my excitement in painting because of its work in challenging the boundaries of the medium and its markedly current and provocative employment of imagery.

I wonder what Parker’s new paintings are about, and what they will look like. After asking me to write this, he sent me a reference image that I immediately recognized from his most recent solo show, “Parker Cheeto: The Net Artist (America Online Made Me Hardcore)”, with its colorful and light-sensitive play between elements (reminiscent of “The Agony...”) as well as its saturated and seemingly nonchalant juxtaposition of recognizable motifs with illegible content, including typed words and Parker’s handwriting. The idea of these words becoming illegible in the service of one of Parker’s paintings is exciting to me, not discouraging; it makes me want to keep typing forever. His paintings are exciting to me in that they comment in a visually beautiful way on the feelings most of us share now. Our understanding of these feelings is at best ethereal, but our experience of them is infinite in Parker’s work. His paintings are firmly grounded in knowledge of the internet and holocene emotional phenomena. For that reason, he’s no Twombly, but I guess for the same reason you could also argue that Twombly is no Ito.

- Will Neibergall




The works of… Parker Ito have no origin, no source code. They are made in the form of circuits - they proliferate and surge.

–Radical / Radicant, Nicolas Bourriaud, Purple Magazine

Parker Ito’s work is wide in its material and conceptual range. It takes the form of installation, painting, sculpture, video, drawing, websites, books and printmaking. Ito’s practice finds harbor in the objects and discrete entities he produces, but crucially, it is the routes between the works – the circuits that connect them – that give Ito’s practice its defining structure: the network.

Since 2016, Ito has produced paintings in the format of still lifes. Materially inventive and heavy with processes that corrupt and enhance the image that initiates each work, Ito’s still life paintings are laden impressions of the things that surround him. The artist assembles cultural markers, ornaments, floral arrangements and consumables in front of the distinctive Hollywood vista that backdrops his living room. He pushes the resulting images through crunchy technologies – including screens, cameras, printers, hand-painting – and the atmospheric effects of these processes behave like the binding substance of the artist’s consciousness.

On the first occasion Ito exhibited these works, curator and critic Franklin Melendez described the show as having ‘a general tone of evacuation, a ceremonial cleaning of the cache.’ As the artist’s first solo outing after his exhibition saga of 2013–2015, which crescendoed with the hyperphagic installation A Lil’ Taste of Cheeto in the Night, the six-part exhibition Melendez refers to must be understood in dramaturgical relation to its predecessor, Cheeto.

Cheeto reproduced the sensational glut of physical and screen-based landscapes that Ito moved through; and the disappearance of faculties that might distinguish them. Suspending paintings, sculptures and monitors from chains and sequencing them together with LED rope lighting, the invisible structure of the network that had governed Ito’s practice since its beginning was now articulated in physical form.

As with any crescendo, its impact relies on the quietude that follows it. The networked arterials that had been a source of sensorial inspiration for Ito’s installations – the geography of Los Angeles and the topography of online navigation – had been exhausted. The artist had metabolized the abundant output of Cheeto through the cumulation and dispersion of this ungraspable and protean installation. It’s from this space of purgation that his focused series of still lifes emerged. It was no longer necessary for Ito to insist on the networked structure of the practice via the explicitly connective materials of chains and LEDs because the network was now diffuse and total: established as a structural condition of the work rather than a conceptual overlay.

Interspersed between the making of these paintings are the more imagistic offshoots that are elaborated from the still lifes. The subjects of these paintings are partially assembled from Ito’s material surroundings but go further in that they’re plastered with material plucked from the artist’s memory (both neurological and computer memory). They bare time stamps, self-portraits, signatures, aliases, gesture, codes and logos. Each is both an entry point and a decoy; an insight and a diversion.

The importance of [Ito’s] personas is not necessarily their family resemblance, but the position they outline: namely, the artist as profile, individuated by so many surface effects. Art historians will quickly point out this is far from a novel concept (insert your own favorite

example here), but what remains prescient is how the compound recontextualizes questions of

replication and authenticity within a set of historically specific conditions. Thus, the Internet rears its ugly head once again, but perhaps from a more nuanced vantage point where, in order to grasp its macro effects, one must contend with its micro-reconfigurations…
–The Plight of P, Franklin Melendez, LXAQ 2017

The Cheeto saga and Ito’s subsequent presentations confirm a commitment to the phenomenological behavior of art. Ito’s work reminds that the lens of experience through which an artist makes work will never match the lens through which viewers encounter it. Phenomenology suggests that we always go beyond the image that is presented to us; that nothing is received in the same order that it naturally exists. It supposes that a chemistry is produced between the object being encountered and the consciousness that encounters it and this chemistry is where the event of perception takes place. By inhabiting the (arguably enervated) format of still life painting, Ito isn’t pursuing a dialogue with this crutch of the European art history; rather, he is producing impressions that affirm the phenomenological nature of any encounter with an artwork. Objects, vistas and cultural markers that populate his work might be characterized as abundantly familiar or personal and arcane, but as soon as they’re folded into the consciousness of the artist, they untether from their fixed cultural meanings to enter a new set of relations.

Ito’s recurring capture of the Western Exterminator mascot in his work is an enduring example of this. It’s a figure that is geographically specific to transit routes in Southern California, an environment that has distinctly conditioned Ito’s perception and output. 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, 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. As Melendez describes: Developed as painterly memes, these works elaborate on the same, nondescript portrait of a female student wearing a backpack that was used by a parked domain company as a placeholder for unsold websites. The ubiquity of the image, combined with the exchanges and transactions she both elides and embodies, provided the starting point for open-ended variations that call attention to shifting models of artistic production, authorial intent, and the divorcing of personal images from their original referents.  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.

Apartment: Clippings, Studio / Effects (2019) is a video installation assembled from footage captured from the vistas of Ito’s home and studio. Dripping with atmosphere and a suffused emotional quality, the video feels like pure sublimation. It also conveys the artist’s focus on the infrastructure of images: what dictates their movement and what gets lodged in images as they circuit through varied forms of conveyance. This video installation, the bronze sculptures and the spread of paintings from this body of work all originate from the space of the artist’s home, studio and the passages of transit in between.

There is a geographical specificity to Los Angeles here that is tempting to attribute with conclusive importance, yet Ito’s work has never found footing in this kind of referential territory. At its most ambitious, Ito’s production can reach a level of scale and collaboration that resembles the production of a feature film more closely than a gallery exhibition; and while Ito’s output is formally and materially disparate, it’s tied together by a blanketing atmosphere, a steady undercurrent. Considering this, Los Angeles finds a presence in the artist’s work that is structural and atmospheric, rather than topical. Liberated from a prescriptive approach, Ito’s practice makes generous use the elastic space between the artist’s impulse and how the work is subsequently encountered.

- O.B.



The Bathhouse

Nuremberg’s rivers, the Goldbach and the Pegnitz, which leads to the Wöhrder See, are drawn out with wooden pipes and heated over fires. A trumpet sounds, the ritual commences. Their bodies are scoured, spanked with sheaves of dry branches, wood on flesh, bathed in steam and spanked once more with sopping rags, scratched at, whipped with bouquets of lavender followed by some light blood letting, just the right amount, and then more pleasures yet. Albrecht Dürer stands there in the centre of the room in his bandanna and a string of a thong, playing his flute, displaying his body, his twisted abdominals and bulging loins, for all to see; he’ll make a print of this men’s bathhouse (ca. 1496) and distribute it all around Europe, he thinks. Albrecht plays the sex symbol that he always likes to imagine himself as. Later he’ll sketch a portrait of his good friend the scholar Willibald Pirckheimer and scribble in the margin, in Greek, “With the cock in your arsehole.”

Now the year is 1500. “Oh, century!” exclaims the poet Ulrich von Hutten, “It is a joy to be alive!” Albrecht, aged 28, paints a self-portrait of himself as Christ, glowing gold from within, his long locks curling bright. He enjoys painting himself in the finest garments and newest fashions, as a glamorous, magnificent artist bringing the Italianate style north across the Alps. But does he really wear these clothes so beautifully, he wonders, can he really strike these poses, or is this fantasy world of his own artworks the only place where his body can attain his ideal physical form, which is a strange form, for Albrecht likes to draw things strangely, with sadomasochistic contortions and ripples and deathly curves. He feels love. To live and die in the Northern Renaissance, yearning for the beautiful, he thinks! Albrecht knows what he must do. He must acquire the greatest wealth of visual experiences possible so that he can imagine new kinds of beauty of his own, and in so doing, perhaps, become more beautiful himself. In 1493, he becomes the first Northern European artist to draw a naked whore; in 1517, he makes the most detailed illustration of a scrotum yet attempted.

Now the year is 1520. Albrecht is going to Antwerp to pay his respects to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V just as, at the same time, Hernán Cortés is sailing back across the Atlantic, his fleet low in the water, heavy with looted treasure; “I and my companions,” Cortés had told the Aztecs, “suffer from a disease of the heart that can be cured only with gold!” When they both arrive in Antwerp, Albrecht Dürer becomes the first significant European artist to encounter images from the New World. “I saw the things which have been brought to the King from the new land of gold,” he writes, “a sun all of gold a whole fathom broad, and a moon all of silver of the same size, also two rooms full of armour of the people there, and all manner of wondrous weapons of theirs, harness and darts, very strange clothing.”

“All the days of my life,” he writes, “I have seen nothing that rejoiced my heart so much as these things.” He goes to the bathhouse and closes his eyes. Before him, as they flog him, as they let out some more of his blood, Albrecht sees a vast constellation of images and ideas with which to play, and he feels wonderful, for he can always move forward, continue to reinvent himself, one step, another step; come closer to transcendence.

- Dean Kissick





Parker Ito – the Artist as Network

Parker Ito is a net artist. Parker Ito is an Internet artist. Parker Ito is a post-internet artist. Thus speaks Parker Ito himself. Parker Ito does not defy categorization. He loves categories and he loves to apply them to himself. This is why he is hard to pin down. The labels stick to him just as they peel off. Or maybe they simply cover each other archeologically like posters on a billboard. Maybe this is why people call him nicknames instead. Parker Ito loves that, too. When people call him nicknames, he adopts them. Therefore, Parker Ito is not simply a net artist, an Internet artist, a post-internet artist. Parker Ito is no longer simply Parker Ito. Parker Ito thus reappears as Parker Burrito. Parker Ito exhibits as Parker Cheeto. Parker Ito works in the name of Deke2 and Olivia Calix. Parker Ito tweets in the name of Parker’s Poetry LOL: “If I wasn’t me… I wouldn’t be me.” 

   It is not because Parker Ito has multiple identities. He does not have a second life. He is not – to use a much used word in art speak - schizophrenic. Nor is it because he seeks anonymity. On the contrary. “Yeah,” he says, “I’m into transparency.” He wants to exhibit, display, pose, collaborate – he wants to be present so he can participate. His names are more like the codenames you use when locking onto your netbank, your youtube account, your website. His characters are more similar than different. Ito is his given name, but the other names have also been given to him. A name is not something that sets him apart, but something that makes him take part. Parker Cheeto likes to exhibit the work of Parker Ito who likes to exhibit the work of Parker Burrito. Parker Ito, Parker Burrito, Parker Cheeto, and Deke2 like to show their works within each other’s works. Parker Ito is not simply part of a network. He has become a network. He is a network in a network where the first becomes difficult to tell from the latter. Parker Ito also exhibits with people who are not Parker. He shows online and offline with Body by Body, together they are known as Aventa Garden. He is part of and behind the digital platforms Paint FX and JstChillin. He collaborates with himself in the way he collaborates with others. He himself invented Deke2, when he started to work with the artist duo Body to Body, whom in turn invented the art critic Julia Rob3rts, who in turn wrote about Body By Body and Deke2. With ease Parker Ito lets himself go into a network because it is not other but also him – just as anybody else using the Internet today. This is also why it is difficult to say when he is creative and created, curating and curated – just as the title of his film America Online Made Me Hardcore with all his peers suggests, itself an echo of Mark Leckey’s film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore
   The Internet has always been social and inclusive. This has always been the idea underpinning its development, but today in the age of Web 2.0 it is no longer just an idea. It has become so easy to use, that anybody can participate creatively. It is a playground that is developed by geeks and nerds in such a way that you no longer have to be a geek or nerd to use it. And this fact is something Parker Ito makes a virtue of because he is not a geek or nerd. In his own words, he is rather the opposite: “I'm not an Internet artist – I'm just a hipster on the Internet who makes art. DOI.” 

   Of course, Parker Ito does no consider himself anybody. But he likes to include anybody, for instance in his project The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet, which he also calls Parked Domain Girl. A project, which serves as a reminder, that the moment anybody participates, anybody is no longer anybody. It is mass culture that is no longer mass culture since it is not made by an anonymous mass, but rather a lot of different people. The project started in 2010 and it is still running. It started when Parker Ito took over the probably most known stock photo of a woman on the Internet at the time. The photo was that of a smiling school girl who greeted all visitors, amidst various ads and links, to so-called parked domains bought by the company Demand Media – a company which had acquired thousands of domain names in order to resell them.  Parker Ito asked the Chinese company to reproduce the photo in oil. In turn Parker Ito would paint and manipulate the oil reproductions which he again asked orderartwork to reproduce while simultaneously making the resulting images tour the internet, inviting others to join in. The default image quickly became a meme, produced by a variety of people from the copists who try to stay as close to the original as possible to amaterus on the Internet who most often try to do the opposite. The girl got “parked” on more and more sites – by Parker and many others. In the process various of her qualities were enhanced. While Parker painted her over, others undressed her. Some made her younger, others older. And while she gradually changed into many different things, it started to look as if this was what she was about all along. To some she looks innocent, a nice girl - to others beautiful, an object of desire. In the end, her innocence also became the object of desire that more and more people wanted to touch and retouch. The more people who joined in, the more she became the artist-as-network’s. The more she got parked, the more Parker’s she became. No wonder the girl’s brother, who took the photo and uploaded it to iStockPhoto, felt strange about it. No wonder he wrote Parker Ito an email, explaining that though he ceded the rights to the photo for 60 cents to iStockphoto, he had not predicted the direction it would all take. The girl on the brother’s photo looks both like a kid and like a teenager. She is caught between two things which are rather similar - close to one. As the project developed she has became more and more what Parker Ito is becoming. 

   Often in Parker Ito’s works the artist juxtaposes two things – two things which might have been opposites earlier on, but are becoming more and more similar. It could be the real and the virtual. Or a photo and painting. It could also be Parker Ito’s incessant use of the language of abstract painting juxtaposed with or enmeshed in flowers. The latter is even where all the above comes together for Parker Ito. On the one hand we have flowers in the still life tradition from Spain and the Netherlands in the 17th century, which equals hyperrealism, today redubbed photorealism. On the other hand, abstraction, which in the 19th and 20th century grew out of a negation of figuration, of a realist representation of reality. Parker Ito walks in the tracks laid out by these two traditions and then again he is the heir to neither. Or rather, he is the heir to Edouard Manet, who in the words of Georges Bataille treated still life as “a pretext for the act of painting.” Nowhere is this idea more convincing that in the syphilis-ridden and partly immobilized Impressionist’s last paintings, a large bulk of which where mere flower paintings. If he was by then still a painter of modern life, modern life was by then but a composition of colors. Later, in the 1950s Clement Greenberg would trace modernist painting back to this man for whom painting was nothing but paint. But Parker Ito can also be backtracked to this sort of painting where paint is not simply painting but modern life. The flower Parker Ito likes the most is a flower, which is in itself like a bouquet, a composition of different colors. It is the rainbow rose, whose stalk is split in order to draw up different colors. It is a flower that is split to become one, just like Parker Ito is made up of Parker Ito, Cheeto, Burrito, Oilvia, Deke2, and so on. In this rose the painter, the painted and the painting become one. It is thus a flower which does not look more or less unreal when Parker Ito exhibits it as such, reworks it in Photoshop, with the gradient function, screen prints it onto reflector fabric, rephotographs it and leaves it circulating on the Internet. It is a flower, which does not only blossom one time, but continues to blossom – whose process of dematrialization is accelerated by being split just as its process of rematerializations. If the flower is an abstract painting, it is not because it can be reduced to pure paint. It is rather abstract because it cannot be reduced to one thing. And this is probably why it makes sense that Parker Ito has written in a press release that he doesn’t “believe in pronouncing GIF the right way,” nor ”in wearing all black”, nor “in press releases” – but rather “me… The Internet and me.” 

   As Parker Ito’s presence on the Internet grows, his presence in the art world also grows. But his presence in the latter is more than just a presence, because the Internet not simply expands the art world, but also supplants it to a certain extent. It not only enables and facilitates, but also habituates artists to take matters into their own hands. At a time, when the art world has become professionalized and specialized, Parker Ito is among a bunch of new artists who move in the opposite direction. He sometimes writes his own press releases while claiming he does not believe in press releases. On his iPhone he translates his PR into the language of picture characters, emojis, which he in turn reintegrates into a painting, which is sold to a collector while also circulating as an image on the Internet. On various websites he curates shows. Sometimes he also sells the works online. On the Internet he shows photos of himself posing in front of his own works, making selfies, which imitate his own self-portraits. He exhibits pictures in gallery spaces, which are made to be multiplied. The professional art photographer might shoot his photos, but Parker Ito might change them – either afterwards or preemptively. He makes reflector paintings which shortcircuit the idea of one good photo per work. These paintings change according to the light and the position of the viewer. Though they are flat, sealed with a layer of vinyl, they behave as sculptures, which are experienced on the move. Except now it is no longer the body of the viewer, which is on the move, but the image itself. It looks in many different ways in the gallery room. It looks in still more different ways when photographed. And as it travels from camera to Photoshop to various websites, it keeps changing. Parker Ito takes on the role of all the other agents in the art world. He can be the curator, the art writer, the dealer, the photographer. He can even be the collector who commissions works. And yet, Parker Ito does not replace all these different players. He simply plays them in order to play with them. He is not interested in institutional critique. If anything, he is into institutional change. In this way, he becomes an art world onto himself – an art world within an art world just as he becomes a network within a network where the former becomes difficult to tell from the latter. It might seem a complete mess. But it might also simply be another order.

-Toke Lykkeberg, March 2013