“I’ve always been a believer in the idea that if you can’t explain something in simple terms then it is likely that you don’t fully understand it. After viewing the exhibition Point of Vision at Gallery Hijinks, it is clear as day that Gregory Ito has a deep understanding of the concepts driving his newest body of work. The exhibition is a culmination of a big idea with modest expectations, executed simply, interestingly and beautifully. The depth and range of Gregory Ito’s work reaches past the breakers, well beyond the horizon and into the twilight.”- L. Lanzisero
Gallery Hijinks: What has motivated you to devote your life to art?
Gregory Ito: My innate love and participation in “art” stems from where I grew up, Venice, Los Angeles, a very vibrant and energetic beach community in southern California. Its a funky, strange place to be raised where the boardwalk lifestyle is one that will never end. The boardwalk is over flowing with street performers of all kinds, weed toking hippies, skaters, surfers, gangsters, junkies, and of course millions of tourists. Venice is known for its artist community. Many great artists have worked in studios in Venice like Chris Burden, Jean Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Irwin. This was very exciting for me to know that the area that I grew up in is an inspirational and productive place for artists that I enjoy and admire. Many of the common themes in my work is rooted in the ephemeral moments of twilight and it’s intimate connection to both night and day. Spending my days watching the sun set over the oceanic horizon line is an anchor to my drifting artistic practice. It is quite amazing to see the Sun that spends most of its day high in sky, fall gracefully and merge with the world we are all a part of. There was one summer I spent every day at the beach and would see the sunset and be enveloped in time’s constant progression forward into the future. This could only be done by living so close to the beach. It was the majority of my life in Venice that conditioned my longing to create, present, and support all forms of art.
Robert Irwin, photo credit Philipp Scholz Rittermann
GH: Your art has a very visually meditative quality to it. In your artist statement you speak about “sacred spaces” does religion or divinity play a role in the concepts you are developing?
GI: I have never thought of myself as a religious person. My closest moments in my life to religion were the very infrequent times I went to my local Buddhist temple, not to pray, but to participate with my Japanese American community in West Los Angeles. I was pretty young, like in elementary school. I would sit there looking at the shrine’s symmetrical orientation, the ornate decorations and flower arrangements, and the strong smell of incense that was burned every single day of the temple’s existence. It was during these early years in my life where I saw and internalized the importance of the “sacred” in everyones life. It didn’t matter what religion you are, but knowing that everyone is somehow trying to connect with the unknown qualities that are very present in life. We are all on a quest for understanding and happiness, and it is this quest that we are all pursuing but using different methods and tempo. For me, my path to understanding and happiness is driven by my obsession to make work that important to me and allows to me grow and expand the horizon of my human consciousness. The concepts that have developed through the years of my artistic practice are rooted in the human spiritual connection that every individual has with our surrounding. It is a sacred and human ability that we all have to connect with our world on new levels. We must all cherish this gift.
GH: What role does material play in your work?
GI: During the majority of my artistic career, I have been pushing paint on wood surfaces. Originally trained as a painter I was very comfortable with this idea. I didn’t really look beyond the edges of my panels. But soon I felt trapped by the boundaries that became more apparent in my practice. Most of the work I enjoyed looking at weren’t even paintings. They all involved a large amount of laborious installation. Soon I began to create architectural spaces that housed the monumental ideas I engrain into my paintings. Installation became my new haven. The paintings I made were shown in shrine like constructions, enriching the collection of work with the heavy presence of the “sacred”. Very soon after that I branched out and merged various mediums and materials to my practice bringing sculpture, photography, painting, installation, and video all under one umbrella of my studio practice. Every component to an installation has an intention and operation that can be expressed best through determined materials and methods of art making. There are just too many materials in the world to neglect the infinite possibilities that are available to artists. Opening my practice to various materials and forms of making has given me a life changing sense of creative freedom. I am an artist and I mold my outside world through a life without boundaries.
Collection by Gregory Ito
Detail shot of A Gesture of the Moon’s Boundless Presence by Gregory Ito
GH: In what ways do you think our current technology has changed or altered our perception of time?
GI: The age of technology is one that is very progressive in one way yet very degressive in another. Technology is progressive because it has developed new ways of sharing information and human experience. A universal way to exchange information has evolved from sending a physical letter or package to a digitized email or condensed file that can contain an infinite amount of information. We can share our lives with others and our personal identity is transferred onto a social networking platform that is weightless and invisible beyond the computer screen. The internet is now the collective consciousness of human kind, and the memory bank for all of history and thoughts for the future. But life cannot truly be experienced through the internet. The age of technology is degressive because we share information that has become broken down into pixels and a units of digital memory. It is a recreation of the real. We relive moments through images that are are very distant from the actual experience. We become more dissonant from the true human connections with the world around us, by spending our time in front of a computer or television screen. Time is spent in a new light, one that warps our relationship with the eternal sequences seen in time. We are no longer guided by our surroundings, we are guided by the development of new technologies to suite all of our needs to survive as a species. Nobody looks to the skies to understand the time we spend on this planet anymore. We all look at our calendar grids, fill them with things to do, and don’t venture outside the box very often. Our time is now spent plugged in, online, and with the ticking clock in the top corners of our desktops that we all abide to.