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Home FEATURES Joshua Petker Interview

Joshua Petker Interview

Written by Manuel Bello   
Friday, 26 September 2008 05:59
It's not all about the girls. This LA based artist's solo show opens Oct 4th @Corey Helford.

Joshua Petker is a southern California artist who pulls no punches when it comes to cutting the shit right down to the bone. He spends his time suffering over canvas, diving out in his Hollywood living room, die-harding for the Dodgers, and all around keeping his feet planted flat on the ground. He has a style that you might night not want to take home to mom, but would defiantly want to take home from a seedy LA bar. Seductive, scandalous, and downright hot in the worst way. His paintings are like that girl that you know will destroy you but somehow you just can't resist. -Manuel Bello

Candy Water

Where do you come from?

I was born in Van Nuys, CA in 1979. I currently live in Silverlake, which is a neighborhood east of Hollywood in LA. I've lived here for about 6 years now.

What is it about Hollywood that sparks your enthusiasm?

Hollywood is primarily a flat bit of land right beneath the Hollywood Hills and the mansion homes that tower there. The area is a mix of apartments, 1920s bungalows, and houses that have castle towers attached to even the most modest 1 levels. Palm trees line famous streets and there is no end to motivated people pursuing huge dreams or spending all of their time pretending to be one. It's dreamy here. That's not to say dreams come true here. Because they usually don't! Hollywood to me at least, feels like this great big quiet soul. It smells more like failure than success but there is no better place to feel close to the edge yet quiet and alone at the same time. Deep huh?

Um yeah, so deep... What is your primary medium?

I almost only use acrylic paint. At times I've used ink, paint pens, glitter or nail polish but 97% of the paintings are acrylic.

Alice Axes

You seem to work with bright happy, neon, pastels but your work still has a very dark undertone, what inspires such contrast in your work?

I like juxtapositions. Putting blue on top of red is fun for me. Life and the world can be pretty dark but I believe, all in all, in good, even when it's bad. I see the bright neon colors like too much sugar. Like the way too much happy, makes you sick to your stomach. Not sure why I'm attracted to that. Life is brutal yet so awesome and great! I think I'm trying to paint what I cannot to say.

Do you base your work on photo reference or models, or is it from thought?

It always starts from photo reference but the face is just the framework for whatever comes. I don't invent the figures initially but sometimes regardless of the photo reference I often change the entire face of the model just because it happens while painting. I've never drawn a painting before painting it. I do draw but mostly with the paint.

Cats Are Always Black

You once did graffiti, how would you describe that work compared to the work you do now?

It's very different. I only even mention graffiti when talking about my art because I'd feel like a liar if I said I just started drawing only 5-6 years ago, which is pretty much when I started painting and drawing girls. I had been doing graffiti for years before and so was always creating one thing or another. For me graffiti was more about my friends and doing what we did rather than it being about art. But, it was graffiti that led me into fine art, so I feel I should I mention it as a part of what I have done in the past.

Why so many girls? (like I need an answer)

Well, besides the obvious of finding women beautiful I basically started painting girls when I attempted painting because I wasn't really looking to anyone but Klimt for guidance. Since then, I've sort of built my visual language through the expressions of women. Unfairly or not, women have been used objectively in art for so long that I can paint and feel like I am referencing this objective historic subject all while trying to paint the inner emotions of a person, subjectively. Plus, I am primarily only attracted to art that I consider beautiful, so a beautiful women is an easy subject for me. But, when I say I only like work that is beautiful I should point out my opinion of what is beautiful is definitely artistic and at times ugly.

Red Deluge

Klimt (one of your main influences) was very influenced by the Tarot, would you say you are in any way?

No, not so much. But, I am really interested in life, meaning, understanding, black magic, and skeletons on horseback?

He was also known for his use of gold leaf and some other techniques. Have you dabbled in any of this, or is that something that interests you?

Gold Glitter

I have used gold leaf before but in no way as technically as Klimt. I love how intense and demanding bright gold is on a painting. Klimt was much more decorative than me, but if it wasn't for his persistence with it as a medium I might not have tried it. I often think of the palaces in Europe I've visited and all the gold rooms and to me at least gold feels classical and special. I love using gold. Especially mixing it with black and a sad subject.

How come so many of the girls in your paintings have trouble with their lipstick?

Because they all have issues?

Hunting for Witches

What is your social scene like, you out rubbing elbows with the Hollywood elite?

No, not so much. I actually paint most nights of the week. I go out to openings on the weekends sometimes but more often than not I work at home. If I go out for the evening it usually ends up being an all night affair and I can afford less and less of those evenings these days.

When you do venture out what is your favorite Hollywood dive bar?

The Little Joy, hands down. Besides the smoking ban it's been the same for years. But there are lots of places I like drinking by my house. The Red Lion, this big 2-story German beer garden is fun in the daytime. More often than not though I drink in my own living room, which is in Hollywood, and at times pretty divey.

What are your thoughts on the recent stock market crash?

It is awful. The number of times that our government has failed us over the past 8 years is beyond staggering. I don't think the stock market crash will collapse the country. I do hope whichever Candidate (Obama) wins the election will usher in a new era for America.

What are your thoughts on the overall state of the world?

Eh, it's been much worse.

Bloody Mary

What was the last thing you smoked?


Who would you like to smoke?

Sadly, that list grows daily.

Lost Girl

Famous last words?

If you think you know, you don't know... If you know you don't know, you know.

Be sure to check out Joshua's show:
Black Sugar
Opening Saturday, Oct 4th
Runs till Oct 24th
@Corey Helford in LA

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