Last-look: Some Hippies and A Hobo

Colorful and humorous incarnations consider the physical fictions of painting and the nature of its cyclical relationship to time and place. Appropriating motifs from pop-culture, travel, and fetishizing cartoon-like figments of ‘the outsider,’ LA-artist Joshua Petker’s saturated paintings read— as the press release echoes— like ‘mantras anchored by his position of positionlessness.’

At first sight and step into his debut solo Some Hippies and A Hobo, the double cast shadow of a mouse hole in Junk Space is an immediate signifier that we, as participants in Petker’s painted stage, are about to enter a portal of psychedelic narratives. What unfolds is a playful, summer-like, LSD-tinged trip that bends visual schematics to create hallucinatory story-boards contemplating the role of the transient.

The hobo… the hippie… the patterned contours of cats… and appropriated florals from the first colorful luggage to hit the consumer market in the 60’s… star in a whimsical staging that considers the ‘spectacle’ and pop-culturification of identity threaded within our current contemporary visual fabric. A red-eyed Tom Cat perches above a bubble blabbing to ‘phase out jerk’ in a small canvas attached aback one of Petker’s larger dreamy Flower renditions— the phrase I later learn to be an anagram of the artist’s name.

In each of his pieces, Petker positions us to identify as both subject and outsider. Through decorative and gestural dark-humored portraits and landscapes, the fragility of the relationship between subject and spectator is accentuated and our active search to identify within these representations is emphasized. Providing channels for interpretation, Petker explores the psychological manipulations and fantasies within painting— in the process, exposing us as viewers in our starved search to define ambiguous, culturally-constructed and malleable archetypes.

What is also intriguing about this presentation, and further serving to play-up this relationship of participatory bystander, is drawn within the gallery walls itself. From every exhibition, ASHES/ASHES archives one architectural element as a permanent fixture preserved within the space. As ASHES/ASHES founder Andy relays, this allows us to ‘forget the space’ through the subtle changes born through each show’s incarnation. Never erasing the history of previous artist narratives, but building upon them through discreetly re-presenting and monumentalizing them as fundamental landmarks shaping an evolving conversation and experience.

Some Hippies and A Hobo on view at ASHES/ASHES (Westlake / MacArthur Park) thru Saturday, September 5th. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm.

All photos © ASHES/ASHES and WOAH

continued from Curate LA: Sep 3-6