(noun) nonchalant absurdity with a dash of embarrassment.

(verb) to be shark bitten.

(adverb) in a manner that is nonchalantly absurd and embarrassing.

20 May 2011

Tat Ito's "Memento Mori" at Joshua Liner Gallery: May 17th to June 11, 2011

At first glance, Tat Ito's paintings are iridescent and lively, but it is not until you get up close and examine the exquisite details to find the subject matter filled with humor and art historical references. In one set, he has a shark in a tank, like Damien Hirst, immersed in a sea of humans dressed as sharks. The same applies to the large scale painting on the back wall of the gallery--an impressive tree that stretches across the canvas in the foreground, juxtaposed against a pink middle-ground. As you walk up closer you see this puddle shaped landscape; a background filled with magical fairies, only these magical fairies are caught in the act: jumping rope, passed out behind a tree, hanging dead from a tree branch, and lastly a fairy with her pants pulled down, spreading her lips and urinating on the tree. All lewd actions painted in the most magical way.

In a golden panel of flowers, which are painted to look more like weeds, there is a human dressed as dog and the viewer's eye follows this half human/ half dalmatian, in the style of animation, as he runs from the right side of this long panel to left. This hybrid figure stops along the way only to piss on a Campbell's soup can and pull his pants down to fuck a blue inflated animal balloon--essentially pissing on the art of Warhol and fucking the art of Koons.

[Press Release] Tat Ito was born and raised in Japan, but he later made his art studies in the United States. Consequently, the artist and his paintings are a dynamic confluence of East and West, traditional and contemporary. The poetic analogy of “oil on water” describes Ito’s approach to both imagery and cultural references; in his vibrantly colored work, traditional Japanese aesthetics are a foundation upon which floats a contemporary (i.e., Western-influenced) viewpoint. Like a skim of oil on water, the beautiful, reflective surfaces of his paintings fascinate viewers. These top layers never mix but, rather, are presented in dialogue with the substance beneath.

Perhaps even more important to Ito, the artist, is the traditional role of the artist’s hand in creating meaningful works of art. “My hand-executed paintings, imbued with intentionality and meaning, are a direct response to the trendy ‘Factory Art’ of certain Pop and post-Pop artists and an art market fueled by brand-name investing,” says Ito. “The bustling compositions become metaphorical representations of the contemporary art world and visual culture in general. Outrageously costumed figures inhabit a stylized landscape that is simultaneously reminiscent of Japan’s high-voltage electronic age and its gold-leafed medieval era. The paintings become an arena in which my frustrations, disappointment, and hopes regarding the art world take shape with subtle irreverence and humor.”


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