There it is. The seaward cliff-house aflame. Disappeared behind a pastel haze and a reddening sky before us, majestic, otherworldly, desolate. Fire and smoke reign down while murky flood waters rise, ankle-deep. Through an arched doorway, following the white rabbit, we dive headfirst into a trip of vibrancy and alternate reality. Surreal and apocalyptic, it’s a mirror image of the Los Angeles we know and love. The outside air swells with a deafening silence of infinite landscape. Through the portal we find ourselves in a deserted room, a stale and hollow cavern—charred furniture, flickering lights—all the brightness gone. Behind every pretty picture, an ugly story; the reverse is also true, flowers bloom on dark days.
Attuned to beauty in tragedy, Greg Ito’s paintings and installations operate like quasi film-sets, though pared down, minimal and dream-like—emphasizing mood and symbols rather than crystalized detail. Ito’s landscapes are overlaid with a personal lexicon of symbols: burning candles, keyholes, windows, snakes, moons, suns, and all sorts of critters, allowing the incorporation of each to accumulate perspectives and open portals of an imagined reality. From the low hills of Los Angeles, glittering oceans double as the starry night sky and twinkling city lights below. Moving through the booth, viewers are confronted with an eerie sensation of déjà vu, images and icons from paintings, repeat, cross pollinate, and populate the installation—tumbling from the canvas and into real life.
As a fourth generation Angeleno and Japanese-American, Ito’s work mines personal and family histories. Alluding to themes of love and loss, hope and tragedy, his work juxtaposes the autobiographical (past and present) with the aspirational (future). Ito’s landscapes of Los Angeles operate as self-portraiture, even the use of the Tondo canvases allude to such, and reflect upon the evolving narrative of life in this place—beyond the freeways, desert plants, and swimming pools.
Greg Ito (b.1987, Los Angeles, CA) earned his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Division Gallery, Montreal, QC (2019); Penske Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2019); Arsenal Contemporary, Toronto, ON (2019); Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL (2017); Steve Turner, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Et al, San Francisco, CA (2015); City Limits Gallery, Oakland, CA (2014) and group exhibitions including Fused Space, San Francisco, CA (2019); Jeffery Deitch, New York, NY (2018); Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA (2017); R/SF, San Francisco, CA (2017); Romer Young, San Francisco, CA (2017); Mon CHÉRI, Brussels, Belgium (2016); Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL (2014); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – YBCA, San Francisco, CA (2014, 2012); The Lab, San Francisco, CA (2009); and The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CA (2009). He will have his first solo exhibition at Anat Ebgi in September 2020. Ito lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.