Skateboard Legend Dan Peterka Takes a Shot at Contemporary Culture

Dan Peterka’s “Double Blast,” now on view at CES Gallery is in-your-face in many ways—the work is intense as its creator. Peterka is a legend in the skateboarding scene; after inventing the “The Crooked Grind” and starring in the original H-Street Skateboard videos, he picked up a pen as a designer and fine artist. “Double Blast” is a survey of Peterka’s work since 2001, and demonstrates a pointed response to contemporary culture, fusing elements of media, pornography, optical illusions and traditional painting language into digital prints that vibrate with a political belligerence and crude wit. 

Peterka’s collaged and painted works range in level of realism, from pieces such as Flipper and Flopper (both 2014) and the “Penta” series (2013–2014), which are pure abstraction, to the pointed use of clashing elements culled from pop culture imagery. Among these are more jocular works, such as cowell (2014), in which Simon Cowell’s face is overlaid with the words “KEEP PUMPIN,” and News 06 (2014), featuring a mug shot of Axl Rose captioned “Ready or Not, Bird Flu Is Coming to America.” However, in many cases, the work is blatantly political, juxtaposing textual elements with imagery in an effort expose truths about recent world events: George Bush’s face is collaged with the words “Groups Paid” and “Bible” in News 20 (2014); combat police are collaged with a firebomb and flag and “Nordic States fear Mid East attacks” in News 01 (2014); a masturbating woman from a porn film is covered up by words including “battle” and “Advertisers” in News 03 (2014). The attitude of the artworks in “Double Blast” reflects that of Peterka and skate culture overall—risk-taking, disregarding social mores, and nose-thumbing towards government and authority. 

“Double Blast” runs in partnership with “Extra Dopamine,” an exhibition featuring works by Peterka’s good friend Mike Parillo. Both artists have been part of the skate and snowboard scene since the early 1990s, while working as designers for commercial sports companies and maintaining fine art practices. This marks their first time showing together in L.A. since 1999. 

—K. Sundberg

Double Blast” is on view at CES Gallery, Los Angeles, Nov. 15–Dec. 13, 2014.

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