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20121206044517-_ 20121206043705-_ 20121206043914-_ 20121206044936-_ 20121206044353-_ 20111229215954-_ 20121206044800-_ 20120627202045-picture_1 20111229221008-_
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Pilot, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Pilot,
2012, acrylic and ink, 12x12
© joshua petker
Two Figures, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Two Figures,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 12x12
© joshua petker
Royalty II, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Royalty II,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 12x12
© joshua petker
Sad Girl, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Sad Girl,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 12x12
© joshua petker
Eve, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Eve,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 12x12
© 2012
Untitled (Chair I), Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Untitled (Chair I),
2011, acrylic and ink on canvas, 36x36
© joshua petker
Chair on Blue, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Chair on Blue,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 12x12
© joshua petker
Adrift, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Adrift,
2012, acrylic and ink on canvas, 36x38
© joshua petker
Untitled (Sailing I), Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Untitled (Sailing I),
2011, acrylic and ink on canvas, 36x48'
© joshua petker
Life Is a Waste of Makeup, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Life Is a Waste of Makeup,
2010, acrylic and ink on canvas, 36x48
© joshua petker
Two Women Passing in Blue, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Two Women Passing in Blue,
2010, acrylic and ink on canvas, 24x24
© Joshua Petker
Contentment, Smoking, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Contentment, Smoking,
2010, Acrylic on Canvas, 36x36
© the artist
, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker
Never Before All Over Again, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker, Never Before All Over Again,
2013, acrylic and ink on canvas, 46x46
j.frede & Joshua Petker: Support Systems, Joshua Petker, j.fredeJoshua Petker, j.frede,
j.frede & Joshua Petker: Support Systems,
2013, Mixed media
© j.frede & Joshua Petker
, Joshua PetkerJoshua Petker,
2015, Acrylic on muslin, 20" x 16"
© Joshua Petker and ASHES/ASHES
Joshua Petker 1979 Born Los Angeles, California 2002 BA The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington Upcoming Exhibitions December 2012: “About Face” ACME Gallery, Los Angeles, California December 2012: “Pulse Contemporary Art Fair – Miami” LeBasse Projects, Los Angeles, California Solo Exhibitions 2012 “Adrift” LeBasse Projects, Culver City, California 2011 “Pulse Contemporary Art Fair – Los Ange...[more]

Interview with Joshua Petker

On March 15, 2008, the Shooting Gallery in the Tenderloin in San Francisco held the opening reception for graffiti-artist-turned-popart-painter, Joshua Petker’s solo show, featuring sexy Sirens and deadly Delilahs. ArtSlant’s Jolene Torr chatted up the emerging artist to talk about his thematic elements--the usual suspects: sex, death, fear and pop culture.

Joshua Petker, Lady in Hat; Courtesy of Joshua Petker

Jolene Torr: You reference 18th and 19th Century artists with your historic themes of decadence and eccentricity and your impressionist style. How is your work commenting on modern life in L.A.?


Joshua Petker: Humbly putting my hopes in the idea that someone will be talking about my work 50 years from now I think the best answer I can give is that time will only tell. My work is supposed to be as contemporary as it can be, but I do draw my inspiration from artists well before the most current art movement. And I do think my goal is similar to the painters before me: to express my inner feelings about my life and times through the painting of an expressive and emotional glance.


JT: You credit Klimt as being a major influence to you stylistically. Do you use symbols in your work similar to the way he did? Are they graphics and ornament for you or something more?


JP: I'm not so sure Klimt was really a symbolic painter. I think for him it was mostly about decoration and beauty. And, in that sense I definitely do things similar to him. In my own opinion, Klimt's main goal was to create beauty and I think he felt ornamentation was an acceptable tool for his work. There were artists then and now that think decoration takes away from the intellectual impact of the work – I disagree. Because I too focus almost entirely on beauty I continually look to Klimt for guidance on decoration and mood and believe ornamentation is acceptable considering the intent of our work.


JT: You're obsessed with beauty, and you rarely paint male figures. Is there a male presence (other than your view of women) to be found in your work?


JP: I don't know? When women say I captured how women feel inside it is my favorite compliment and means that either men and women are more similar on the inside than commonly believed, or that I am the weirdest straight boy ever.

Courtesy of Joshua Petker

JT: Why are you interested in portraying women and their sexuality? Are your paintings pro-woman and how?

JP: I hope my paintings are very pro-women. They are definitely not intended to be anything other than respectful. If they come across as sexy paintings that is fine by me…but I hope the viewer feels forced to at least look into the soul of the image painted and realize that though it is visually very sexy, on the inside there is a crumbling castle, a girl trying to master her esteem, and that her sexy gaze is much more about her than it is about whomever she is looking at – in my case, the viewer. And, I think painting women not as objects but as complicated individuals is respectful, even when sexy. I hope.


JT: Who are your subjects? Drop some names.

JP: I most often paint friends and models from the LA area. I have painted a few celebs and take on portrait commissions constantly. There are also a few model/friends I use repeatedly. But, I have so far shied away from making the subject herself the focus. I want the model to usually be just that – a model – modeling a nameless expression and a nameless emotion. And, that's what the paintings are about…emotion.


JT: What story are the subjects in your paintings telling?

JP: I want that to be totally open to the eye of beholder. In fact, I try to paint an expression somewhere between coming and going. I want the models to look so confident yet as if they might crack on the inside at any second. Hearts are fragile things and so is life…if anything, I suppose that is the story.

Courtesy of Joshua Petker



JT: What was your first love and did it in any way inspire your art?


JP: Well, my first love happened sort of late in life, in my early twenties. The relationship lasted a few years but was doomed to fail and gladly it did. If anything, I learned that my mouth cannot articulate what my heart wants to get out, so I best keep painting.


JT: Have you ever seen a dead body?


JP: I saw a guy get shot on the street in Seattle. He died. Besides that, not really. Besides the forensic TV shows I’m obsessed with.


JT: What connections do you make between sex and death in your work?


JP: Some of the strongest yet most simple paintings that had an effect on me were Klimt's “The Three Stages of Women” which I think he did a few times. There is one painting in particular called just that...but he painted the idea a few times. I could go on and on about it but, really, it's just a romantic look at the simple fact that we all want to have sex and procreate, how seductive sex is, but that in reality as soon as you have a child your own youth dies and you've just escorted yourself to the second part of life - caring for a new life and eventual death. It's the sad truth behind every seductive glance - and thus, hopefully in all my paintings: "I hate to remind you but you're going to die."


JT: What are you afraid of?


JP: I'm afraid of a long, long death. A long sickness. I'd like to die quickly and ideally with a great sense of humor. Vainly, I'm afraid I'll pass away before my art gets to the point I envision it getting too. I’m afraid of that but hope it won't happen, and I live under the assumption that I’ll live to be 103.

Courtesy of Joshua Petker



JT: Generally, your work is often about those two bookends of life: sex and death. Is there anything more specific you can tell me? Any secret meanings to any particular paintings?


JP: Yes, but it will all be revealed circa 2055 when “The Petker Code” is written by Dan Brown Jr.


JT: Tell us please about what you see happening with pop art or define an art movement, hot shot.


JP: In retrospect I think pop art expanded the language of visual arts by showing what could be considered art. In showcasing everyday objects as art I believe the movement, and Warhol specifically, opened up the advertising world to the positive effect of an artsy campaign. Look at any fashion mag and try to find an ad that wasn't done artfully. In my estimation, painters like me and my contemporaries are essentially trying to return art to a glory day of painting - whatever that may be. And, since our knowledge of art is all AFTER the pop art movement I think it is fair to say we look to advertising to make what we assume a fine art painting should be. So, in my mind, the current movement is basically a return to classical painting albeit with the vocab and tools of the expressionists, abstract artists, pop artists, suicidal rock stars, rap music, the Internet, MTV symbolism, and everything before. Hopefully this mass of culture packaged by our little heads becomes a wonderful little product line called “contemporary fine art painting."



ArtSlant would like to thank Joshua Petker for his assistance in making this interview possible.


--Jolene Torr


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