Rachel Uffner Gallery is delighted to present Serenade, the initially exhibition at the gallery by Los Angeles-based mostly painter Joshua Petker. The artist incorporates factors from a range of visual references — which include scenes from historical European paintings and cartoonish figures from mid-century children’s guides of fairy tales — to produce layered, ghostly paintings that appear to consist of various overlapping photos at as soon as or, perhaps, many planes of perception. This method produces a rich visual dissonance that is mysteriously alluring: the figures them selves are reminiscent of Renaissance archetypes this kind of as troubadours and courtesans, when the fractured system of their representation draws drastically on the affect of Cubism and the functions of French painter Francis Picabia in specific.
Petker’s stylistically assorted, heterogeneous compositions playfully peel absent impressions of immediate precision inside representations of the previous, providing a reminder that what seems to up to date viewers as a historic portray was frequently produced in a theatrical location with costumes and props. The paintings in Serenade similarly delight in artifice and pageantry, positioning Petker himself as a troubadour regaling his audience with tales of romance and adventure.
Coloration also performs a potent purpose in Petker’s paintings, usually heightening their feeling of drama and emphasizing their dreamlike attributes. When the paintings in his 2021 exhibition The Flirt (at Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles) had been dominated by hues of blue and red, Petker loosened people limits whilst earning the paintings on perspective in Serenade, in its place tough himself to get the job done without the need of this sort of self-imposed policies. The ensuing kaleidoscopic shade combos recall both stained glass home windows and psychedelic rock posters, even further growing the expressive options of Petker’s visual language.
Recurring symbolic factors these as cups of wine and musical devices infuse the paintings with the considerably esoteric tone of tarot playing cards and Art Nouveau illustrations, yet this mystical high quality is counterbalanced by the light-hearted humor implied by the extra visually flattened renderings of characters from children’s guides. As an alternative of showing as a grim figure on a white horse, Petker’s Dying is a bewildered-seeking masked dandy proven with his mouth agape.
Like the tarot, Petker’s paintings have the complete breadth and wide range of human encounter: melancholy and delight, debauchery and boredom, coyness and bravado. A resounding be aware of nostalgia pervades the exhibition and Petker’s function extra broadly, yet this nostalgia is largely directed towards the experience of childhood and its associations with imaginative engage in fairly than a unique historical period of time. In Serenade, Petker wryly lifts his individual mask to wink at the viewer even though joining in the hundreds of years-old video game of costume-up and perform that comprises the history (and upcoming) of painting.