By Elisabetta Silvestro
Oakland-based David Polka is the artist behind the latest exhibition showing at the City College Art Gallery.
“Four Archetypes” includes paintings on wood panels and installations that recall old-school tattoos and mythology characters.
Polka hosted the opening reception Oct. 2 welcoming the attendees, sided by his dog, with hummus, vegetables and crackers.
The paintings and the installations feature subjects such as faces, skulls, flames, daggers and hearts, intertwined together in the most unexpected ways.
The 29-year-old says mythology, archetypes and the “progress-at-any-cost mentality” are recurring themes in his work.
The compositions leave the interpretation to the viewers’ imagination. One could see a war scene, deities or the end of the world all in the same painting.
The colors, obtained through acrylics, color pencils and water-based inks, appear solid, in natural and primary hues, with bold lines.
The installations are inspired by a style of still-life painting from the 16th and 17th centuries called “Vanitas,” which aimed to represent the passage of time and the transient nature of human life.
Polka, attracted to castaway objects, searched for the pieces for his installations on train tracks and along the bay.
“I’m really drawn to abandoned spaces,” he says.
The exhibition was curated by art teacher and gallery coordinator Nancy Elliott, who saw Polka’s work last year in Oakland and contacted him to exhibit this fall. Elliott is on sabbatical this year.
The art gallery hosts local and national artists as well as the work from City College faculty, students, staff and alumni.
Polka, a University of New Mexico art graduate, moved to Oakland from Albuquerque, N.M., three years ago.
“(Oakland) is a really inspiring place to be,” he says, as there are a lot of creative people who support each other and it’s still possible to make a living as an artist.
At the moment, Polka is working a lot on murals in Oakland or at his studio Faultline Artspace, which is also a gallery open to the public, in Fruitvale, east Oakland.
The exhibition is showing until Oct. 29 at the City College Art Gallery, located in the Visual Art Building, Room 119, at the Ocean Campus.
Gallery hours: Monday 12-1:30 p.m., Tuesday 12-4 p.m., Wednesday 12-1.30 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., Thursday 12-4 p.m.