Pettibon’s distinctive style combines pen and ink figuration with hand-inscribed text and collage elements to create incisive works that probe the deeply embedded dualities of American culture. The deep well of sources and influences from which he draws — everything from comics, world history, American politics, and baseball to film noir, literature, and surf culture — coalesce into a lyrical rapture of high and low. His remarkable aesthetic is the result of the brazen approach Pettibon takes to drawing, unconcerned with the slipshod markings and concomitant blots, smears, and retracings that appear in its wake. This outwardly crude manner is underwritten by technical and linguistic mastery — an interplay that has made Pettibon’s work an emblem of countercultural disaffection since he emerged on the art scene in the early 1980s.
This exhibition of new drawings and collages welcomes back familiar characters and motifs such as Gumby and his horse, Pokey, Batman and Superman, Hollywood actors, dogs, baseball players, and gangsters. Also featured are new ‘wave’ paintings by Pettibon, whose longstanding fascination with surf culture has grown into an iconography unto itself. Other prevalent motifs include racehorses and jockeys, which stride alongside tokens of Antiquity, mythology, and Classical architecture. Pettibon presents this latter set as decaying, delinquent, and over-sexed, a dilapidated reality that presents a dilemma to scenes of Western triumph — mostly snide but occasionally wistful — that are grouped among them.
This selection of images contends, too, with constructs of modern art. Letters and punctuation are the subjects of several works, which Pettibon presents absent of context. Reducing typographical elements to purely formal traits, he rids them of meaning or reference, as Jasper Johns did with numbers, targets, and the American Flag. Similarly, a number of monochromatic rectangles conjure the aesthetic fundamentals of artists like Yves Klein and Kazimir Malevich, reaching their logical apex in a solitary green rectangle captioned, in what could only be an homage to Gumby: ‘Blockhead.’
Raymond Pettibon (b. 1957 Tucson, AZ) received his BA in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977.
Pettibon’s work was the subject of two recent solo exhibitions, And What is Drawing For? at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Daumier – Pettibon at Kunst Museum Winterthur, Switzerland, both in 2019. In 2017, the New Museum in New York presented A Pen of All Work, which traveled the same year to Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, where it was shown in part under the title The Cloud of Misreading. Previous solo presentations include Homo Americanus, Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Sammlung Falckenberg (2016), which traveled to Museum der Moderne Salzburg (2017); Home and Away. Raymond Pettibon: Living the American Dream, Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia (2015); Whuytuyp, Kunstmuseum Luzern (2012); Whatever It Is You’re Looking For You Won’t Find It Here, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2006), which traveled to Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (2007); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2005); Plots Laid Thick, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, which traveled to Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery and Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands (all 2002); The Renaissance Society, Chicago (1998), which traveled to The Drawing Center, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (all 1999); and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1995); among others.
Pettibon has additionally participated in the Istanbul Biennial (2011); Liverpool Biennial (2010); SITE Santa Fe (2010 and 2004); Venice Biennale (2007 and 1999); Whitney Biennial, New York (2004, 1997, 1993, and 1991); and documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002).
Works by the artist are held in permanent collections worldwide including The Art Institute of Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others.
He has been the recipient of the Oskar Kokoschka Prize (2010), Whitney Biennial Bucksbaum Award (2004), and the Wolfgang Hahn Prize (2001).
Pettibon lives and works in New York.
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For all other inquiries, please contact Sarvia Jasso, Katy McKinnon, or Irina Stark at Regen Projects