Peter Tomka Paternity Test
July 9th – August 6th 2021
Born: Des Moines, Iowa
October 19, 1989 11:47 PM
Sun: Libra 26° 46’
Moon: Cancer 10° 07’
Venus: Sagittarius 12° 47’
It was the dead of night when Peter Tomka left the liminal space of his mother’s womb and entered the world. The moon and Jupiter hung low in the sky, pressed together in the sign of Cancer as if in a huddle discussing PT’s next moves. The prominence of these luminaries at his birth foreshadowed something of the character and experiences PT was likely to encounter. Cancer, identified with the culmination and diminution of light at the equinox and a symbol of the spirits descent into matter, suggests a revelatory experience of embodiment, a delight in and astonishment of what the body is capable of.
It might have been easy to get lost in the orbit of the senses if it had not been for the simultaneous presence of the alternative, Saturn. Saturn who sits on the edge of this world, a gatekeeper, is a constant reminder that all rows lead to the same exit.
The sun in Libra, strung between these two contradictions, dangled miles below the horizon weighing their claims. From this place of deep reflection a glimmer of light in Saturn’s onerous truth and a shadow of darkness edging the moon can be seen, so that both sides carry an acknowledgement of the other. And it may be that through this lens and process of sifting, shaking reality back and forth between fragments of truth held in diverse qualities of light, that PT articulates his experience of the world.
As Paternity Test opens, the sun and moon come together in the sign of Cancer, a reminder of the seats Jupiter and the moon held when PT originated. The role most are accustomed to when viewing art is one of detachment, a clear sense of separateness between themselves and the works they are observing. PT however doesn’t allow his audience space to erect this distinction. Instead viewers are brought immediately into the emotional experience of his subjects and this, in turn, solicits a similarly affecting reaction from the spectator. The suggestion of the astrological omens at the time of the opening is that the images displayed will generously allow the viewer to consider what it is to share an emotional intimacy both with the artist and his subjects.
Peter Tomka’s work is held in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Balch Art Research Library at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He holds a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from the University of California, Riverside.