When I saw the first few images of Ito’s work, I didn’t want to say or write anything about them, but just stare at the beautiful gradients. I felt like they didn’t need any explaining or describing of any kind, and that speaking about the work would dispel the bubble of magic that the paintings were suspended within. These pieces are masterpieces of atmosphere and mood setting, but the mood is not immediately obvious or nameable, which adds to the allure.
I consistently instruct my students to get better at describing and talking about their feelings and reactions to the work they’re making and seeing. Trying to name your reaction to a specific decision within a painting will help you make better choices when it comes to creating your own work. It’s also very useful to describe your favorable and unfavorable reactions to a piece of artwork, because you might realize that your first impression was mistaken in some way the more you turn it over in your mind.
So despite that advice, maybe you will forgive me here for not wanting to dive too deep into my thoughts about Ito’s work. I’d rather just dive into the spaces the paintings open up instead. I’ll finish with another quote from the Art Forum piece:
“Every time I have a problem, I go deeper and deeper into painting,” Ito once said. “I have no place to take myself except painting.” Given the dislocation, internment, and belatedness that mark the artist’s biography, it’s significant that Ito understood her medium in explicitly spatial, situated terms—as a “place” to be entered and inhabited.