Enter the Cartoonishly Psychedelic World of Painter LSDworldpeace

Joe Roberts, AKA the artist LSDworldpeace, proceeds without expectations. Rather than mark any particular destination for a painting, he walks in blind, opens his mind to whatever might surface, and finds his way as he goes. Just like a good trip.

The results are surreal tableaus that touch on still life and landscape and smash together ancient iconography with modern pop culture. “Smash” is the word here—characters and symbols with zero logical relationship appear side by side with no effort to connect them. Yet, out of all these jumbled and disparate elements emerge holistic, singular paintings. Through excess Roberts finds a weird balance. The charming chaos of his vision feels like a delightful psychedelic journey, the best kind in which images and sensations float in and out with no particular design.

Joe Roberts 2

Born in Wisconsin and educated at the Art Institute in San Francisco, where he still lives, you could say Joe’s work is “wide-eyed.” Roberts himself appears a little naturally tripped-out, with a gaze that seems to look somewhere more distant than most, as if his vision has been permanently propped open via psychedelics.

With his 24/7 “psych-vision” activated, Roberts draws ideas from close at hand. A dose of psilocybin can imbue the everyday with miracles, and for Roberts, everything is inspiration. In spite of the trippy places his works end up, many of them start with everyday scenes.

A simple moment from home can serve as a painting’s foundation, something as ho-hum as a dining room table by a window or railway tracks running along a forest. But these scenes just provide a base layer. From there, he starts to pile on the trippy elements.

Joe Roberts 3

Roberts makes, the everyday world malleable, a raw material for the enlivened brain to play with. He builds paintings like a stage, and his psychedelic injections provides the set dressing, and the wide roster of familiar characters provide the cast.

Many of those characters are familiar, as Roberts’ paintings feature a Saturday morning’s worth of beloved cartoon characters and conspiracy theories: Casper the Ghost, Rocky the Squirrel, Jack o’ Lanterns, Smokey the Bear, little green men and their UFOs, just about everybody gets a moment in the spotlight. His tweaked version of Mickey the Mouse, renamed Wheezy and put through the ringer a few times, makes frequent cameos, including the cover of his 2018 book We Ate The Acid. An earlier book, 2014’s eponymous LSD World Peace, features on its cover a tightly cropped portrait of the Ninja Turtle Donatello dropping acid. It must be a strong dose, too, as aliens with Grateful Dead Stealie foreheads have replaced his pupils.

Book of joe roberts lsd worldpeace

Given this material, you can understand why Roberts describes his work, somewhat cheekily, as “amateur lifestyle painting.” His perfected technique is essentially childlike. It’s often said that psychedelics help you revert to a more childlike state, one where everything is new and interesting and the world is shot through with curiosity and wonder. Viewing an LSDworldpeace painting is like seeing this process unfold before you. His wild compositions reward every glance, packed with so many interesting visuals it’s as if Roberts had to rush to get it down quickly, before it escaped.

That said, Roberts acknowledges that even the best psychedelic artwork can’t replicate the real thing. But he hopes the work of himself and other similar artists will encourage people to try it out for themselves.

“How you choose to explore it is how you choose to explore it. Make sure you take notes.” These two sentences open his 2018 book, We Ate The Acid. While Roberts may not provide a map for your own journey, his paintings show a wonderful destination.

More articles