ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present Some Hippies and a Hobo, a solo exhibition by Joshua Petker. The exhibition will be on view July 18 – August 28, 2015 with an opening reception on Saturday, July 18, from 7–9pm.
Jesters, vagabonds, sailors at port, historical bohemians, Greek cynics, and common outsider intellectuals inhabit the role of the subject in Petker’s work – listless seekers as, and among, tropes of painting. His subjects and painting processes represent an attempt at making sense of one’s existence through idealism while also repeating the material routines of daily life. Central to his practice is a common ground between the activities of unmoored searching and structured patterning. Petker enacts Freud’s notion of life as a phenomenon of repetition by painting the same flower patterns in the hopes of achieving personal peace in the process. Other bumper sticker philosophies rub elbows with Fauvism and Pop art historical influences. The motifs in Petker’s paintings become mantras anchored by his position of positionlessness.
The works on view in Some Hippies and a Hobo are a continuation of Petker’s tussle between waywardness and structure in popular enlightenment. Viewers are greeted by the painting Junk Space (2015) with a view from a mouse hole to another mouse hole, behind which presumably lie Petker’s transcendental transients. Along the gallery’s west facing wall is an 18-foot long patchwork mural of painted floral motifs from 1960s travel luggage. These flower patterns were among the first mass-produced non-monochromatic pieces of baggage, a watered-down individuation for middle class tourists. Centered on the gallery’s long axis hangs a portrait of a hobo, an ecstatic icon painting in which the pictorial and symbolic relationships between the ass and the heart radiate from the body electric into the physical exhibition space. His navel gazing sets a hallucinatory mode of viewing useful for accessing Petker’s paintings. As liberating and mind expanding as these subjects’ attitudes may be, the work does not ignore the darker side of aimlessness in the game of cop chase man chase dog chase cat chase mouse. Some Hippies and a Hobo considers generative possibilities of how relationships between history and patterning repeat themselves.
Joshua Petker (born 1979 in Van Nuys, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including Incognito at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA (2015), Support Systems at 2A Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2014), and About Face at ACME. Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2012). Petker received a BA in Social Sciences from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA in 2002 and an MFA in Art from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA in 2015.