Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce The Flirt, an exhibition of paintings by Los Angeles artist Joshua Petker. On view at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd, opening Saturday, May 1, 2021. This is Petker’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Petker’s newest paintings are a reprieve from the past year of lockdowns and isolation, a portal to a romantic and psychedelic world of socializing, drinking, romance, music, and flirting. Constrained by a commitment to make essentially monochromatic paintings of blue, accented by punches of red, Petker provokes viewers with this electric combination. Blue is doleful, despondent, even risqué—as in blue humor, while red is passion, danger, and sensuality. The striking palette combination evokes advertising, discos, emergency and police lights.
The exhibition comprises large scale works which merge and layer a range of figurative styles. They are bold, buzzing crescendos populated by barmaids, dandies, and mustachioed flaneurs who float, converse, and recline together like mirages and apparitions. Petker also intersperses the exhibition with intimate tightly cropped paintings that court ambiguity and mystique. In these small works he pauses on quiet details suggestive of much larger scenes: red-stockinged feet sitting around after the party is over, a couple standing close in the garden, two hands fastening a slipper.
Drawing inspiration from historical paintings, which are intentionally kept anonymous, the works rely instead on their ability to evoke the familiar and uncanny, teasing and tantalizing. Rather than draw specific conclusions from these juxtapositions, the works in the exhibition unleash an exhilarating proliferation of meanings and pictorial puzzles. The artist offers the history of art and visual culture reshuffled—Picabia, Bronzino, soviet era cartoons. Petker makes these his own and the outcome is a timeless dreamlike mix of perspective and emotionality.
Joshua Petker (b. 1979, Los Angeles, CA) completed his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 2015 and his BFA at Evergreen State College in 2002. He has exhibited his work recently at La Loma Projects, Pasadena, CA; ASHES/ASHES, New York, NY; Park Life Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA; and ACME, Los Angeles, CA. Petker lives and works in Los Angeles.