Parker Ito @ White Cube, Mason’s Yard

Uh huh, honey. Three words (words?!), that I never expected to hear inside a gallery. However, the world’s most talked about couple (I’m talking Kimye/Kim Kardashian and Kanye West here), have managed to get themselves featured in the form of West’s music video for Bound 2, inside an art installation at White Cube in Mayfair.

I am almost 100% certain that this exhibition is nothing like anything that you’ve ever seen before. White Cube is playing host to the work of Parker Ito, or rather Parker Cheeto, his alias in a spread of paintings and installations across two floors. The works are continually juxtaposing one another in an almost jarring fashion and I honestly believed it to be a group exhibition until I reread the press release, although it was an easy mistake to make as Ito credits nine other artists for the work. You can get an impression to just how enigmatic the show is just by its title: Maid in Heaven/En Plein Air in Hell (My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Cheeto Problem). The show should give the viewer a headache yet it manages to just about work.

On the ground floor, the viewer enters a gallery of white walls, with hanging tube lights and flowerpots interspersed inside the space. In the centre of the room is a flat screen television, which is playing the Kanye West music video, which makes the already bizarre space seem even stranger. Between the lights are chains hanging down from the ceiling, which apparently had live parrots hanging on them at the private view. The walls then mirror what is lying across the floor and hanging from the ceiling with canvases decorated with mash-ups of flowers, landscapes and chains. It all sounds a little over the top right? Well, it was only a warm up to what was to come downstairs.

As you walk down the stairs you begin to realise that this show is atypical. The walls are no longer white as they have been painted from ground to ceiling and the shiny floor has been replaced with glittery red carpet. The wall paintings are covered with comic book, anime style images. Think pop art that has been injected with a large dose of 21st-century technology. On top of these images, Cheeto, (or Ito?), has scribbled his own thoughts across in white pen. These include such musings as ‘afro girls, plaid pants, #trippy graphics’, ‘a lack of confidence is holding me in life’ and ‘a lil taste of Cheeto in the night.’ The whole experience is mind boggling yet fascinating at the same time. As well as the wall art and hanging lights and chains, large canvases are also being draped from the ceiling. These are decorated on both the front and back and have other images collaged and pasted all over them. My favourite of these is a nod to the ‘love is’ cartoons from the 1970s by Kim Grove Casali.

So much is included in this exhibition that it would be impossible to list it all. It is a captivating and absorbing look inside the head of Parker Ito as well as an homage to contemporary culture and I urge everyone to go and get lost and confused inside the White Cube (which has now become a sort of rainbow cube) as soon as they have the chance.

Maid in Heaven/En Plein Air in Hell (My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Cheeto Problem is on display White Cube, Mason’s Yard until 27 September

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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