Rachel Uffner Gallery is happy to present Serenade, the initially exhibition at the gallery by Los Angeles-primarily based painter Joshua Petker. The artist incorporates components from a selection of visible references — such as scenes from historical European paintings and cartoonish figures from mid-century children’s guides of fairy tales — to make layered, ghostly paintings that look to comprise several overlapping visuals at once or, possibly, multiple planes of perception. This strategy makes a loaded visual dissonance that is mysteriously alluring: the figures on their own are reminiscent of Renaissance archetypes these types of as troubadours and courtesans, while the fractured strategy of their illustration draws drastically on the impact of Cubism and the is effective of French painter Francis Picabia in individual.
Petker’s stylistically various, heterogeneous compositions playfully peel away impressions of direct accuracy in representations of the past, giving a reminder that what seems to modern day viewers as a historical portray was frequently designed in a theatrical placing with costumes and props. The paintings in Serenade similarly delight in artifice and pageantry, positioning Petker himself as a troubadour regaling his viewers with tales of romance and experience.
Shade also performs a highly effective purpose in Petker’s paintings, usually heightening their feeling of drama and emphasizing their dreamlike qualities. Although the paintings in his 2021 exhibition The Flirt (at Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles) were dominated by hues of blue and purple, Petker loosened those limits even though making the paintings on view in Serenade, as a substitute demanding himself to do the job devoid of these types of self-imposed regulations. The resulting kaleidoscopic colour combinations remember the two stained glass home windows and psychedelic rock posters, further more increasing the expressive prospects of Petker’s visible language.
Recurring symbolic features these kinds of as cups of wine and musical instruments infuse the paintings with the to some degree esoteric tone of tarot cards and Artwork Nouveau illustrations, still this mystical excellent is counterbalanced by the mild-hearted humor implied by the much more visually flattened renderings of people from children’s guides. Instead of showing up as a grim figure on a white horse, Petker’s Demise is a bewildered-seeking masked dandy shown with his mouth agape.
Like the tarot, Petker’s paintings comprise the complete breadth and selection of human experience: melancholy and delight, debauchery and boredom, coyness and bravado. A resounding notice of nostalgia pervades the exhibition and Petker’s operate more broadly, nevertheless this nostalgia is mostly directed towards the expertise of childhood and its associations with imaginative participate in instead than a particular historical interval. In Serenade, Petker wryly lifts his personal mask to wink at the viewer even though joining in the centuries-old match of dress-up and enjoy that includes the heritage (and foreseeable future) of portray.