Art Chat with Joshua Petker
Fascinated by the extent women go through to project a certain image to the world, Joshua Petker paints fashionable subjects who appear confident on the outside, yet near breaking point on the inside. In his upcoming show at Corey Helford, Celluloid Constellations, Joshua reinterprets the movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Age in his dreamy yet haunting aesthetic. These glamorous subjects of a bygone era are adorned with bursts of bold, neon hues and unsettling (often smeared) makeup set against soft negative space. Here Joshua chats about the inspiration behind his upcoming show, growing up in the City of Angels, and his thoughts on graffiti as an art form.
Your upcoming show, Celluloid Constellations, focuses on the glamorous movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. How did the concept and inspiration evolve? And which iconic celebrity fascinates you most and why?
The inspiration for the show came after I was given a copy of Kenneth Anger's book, Hollywood Babylon. I had never seen this famous book before and was enthralled by the glamourous, violent images, and sordid scandals of early Hollywood that are the books contents. Not all of the stories in the book are true and some have led to urban legends about the deceased celebrities. My work is often about identity and image and this book filled with gossip and glamourous half-truths about real people led me to think again about the notion of celebrity and to paint about it.
What was it like growing up in a city consumed by glitz and fame? How has it influenced the direction of your artwork?
My childhood in Los Angeles was devoid of any direct glitz or glamour. But, I have always been fascinated by my city and the unique industries that thrive here. I am very interested in the history of Los Angeles and so I often make art inspired by the history of Los Angeles.
You began creating art at a young age as a graffiti writer. What are your thoughts about the current debate over whether graffiti is art or vandalism? Any plans in the future to create a mural on the streets of LA?
To say graffiti isn't artistic would be absurd. But, generally speaking, to say graffiti is on par with fine art would be equally absurd. Graffiti is an art form with mass appeal but it doesn't offer much besides a celebration of one's ego. I get bored of that. That said, graffiti is art and in my opinion the best graffiti is big ugly vandalism.
If you could only hang one painting from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
I hate to not answer your question but that is unanswerable. I could never choose just one. My favorite artists right now are Pablo Picasso, Martial Raysse, Jacques Villegle, Joan Mitchell, and Mark Rothko.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t necessarily know.
I am obsessed with basketball.
If I were to spend the day with Josh, what could I expect?
Lots of coffee.
Thanks Josh! Celluloid Constellations opens Saturday, June 11th at Corey Helford Gallery.