Exhibition

Raymond Pettibon

25 Nov 2009 – 9 Jan 2010

Sadie Coles | Davies Street

London, United Kingdom

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About

Pettibon's recent works display a newly ‘painterly' quality. A number of them are predominantly monotone, with black brushstrokes flecked expressionistically across the page. Others abound with colour: the textured gouache and acrylic work No Title (As he enlarged) shows red curtains opening upon a swirling blue planet Earth; while in Not Title (We would then), a fountain of colour — at once psychedelic and sickly — spews outward alongside textual fragments that include Aldous Huxley's account of taking mescaline. In many of the works, cartoon-style exclamatives streak across the page, echoing the stylised transcriptions of Lichtenstein and other Pop artists, and yet often spelling out unintelligible sounds suggestive of a primeval state anterior to language. The ‘howl' is one of a number of recurrent motifs in Pettibon's new work; the human heart also reappears here as a dense, delicately rendered mass of capillaries. Pettibon's black and white drawings from the 1980s evidence a sparing, linear style. The figures' pronounced, starkly drawn expressions evoke comic strips — and much of Pettibon's work from this period indeed took the form of fanzines. Pieces of excised text float suggestively above or beneath the images, baldy suspended within the white of the page and suspended in meaning between a multiplicity of emotional registers and connotations. From his earliest pieces drawing upon the Los Angeles punk rock scene, Pettibon's art has been characterised by this kind of historical and stylistic dissonance. Pop-cultural influences intermingle with those of Goya and Blake; cartoonish exaggerations and conflicting perspectives are juxtaposed with delicate tonal variations; and the cacophony of transcribed and reformulated texts — highbrow and low-brow — confirm Pettibon's meandering, panoramic historical perspective.

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