David Zwirner and Zwirner & Wirth will both present an exhibition of the work of Los Angeles-based artist Raymond Pettibon. Opening on January 10, Zwirner & Wirth will exhibit a group of early drawings, drawn from private collections, documenting the first decade of Pettibon’s work in the 1980s. Opening on January 11, David Zwirner will present an installation of new drawings by the artist.
This year a solo exhibition entitled Raymond Pettibon, plots laid thick was organized by MACBA in Barcelona, Spain which traveled to the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in Tokyo; and to the Musée Departemental d’Art Contemporain in Rochechouart, France. The exhibition is currently on view at the Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The artist's work was also included in Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany and in 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Wolfgang Hahn Prize in Germany.
One of the most important artists to emerge from Southern California, Raymond Pettibon’s work embraces the full spectrum of American culture from the deviations of marginal youth-culture to art, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality. His earliest drawings appeared on the album covers for his brother Greg Ginn’s band, Black Flag, and in fanzines and photocopied books that he distributed himself.
Dating back to the late 1970s, Pettibon adapted a drawing style similar to the one found in American comic books. He was interested in the cartoon's mode of presentation, which enabled him to use a more remote, generic drawing style versus a very personal one. Over the years, however, the relationship between image and text has become even more powerful. The work has a stronger reliance on the text, making the image more a support or location for the artist’s writings. At the same time, certain images have become recognized as part of Pettibon’s vernacular. These include the surfer, Gumby, trains, dollar signs, and baseball players. The literary sources for his drawings are equally diverse, ranging from William Faulkner; Daniel Defoe; Gustave Flaubert; Marcel Proust; pulp fiction; Charles Manson; James Joyce; and the Bible.
Many of the drawings at Zwirner & Wirth deal with the difficult issue of racial divisions within American society. Portraits of Nixon, Reagan and Lenin make a poignant appearance, in addition to drawings commenting on war and politics.
At David Zwirner, the artist will show new work, with an emphasis on large-scale drawings. Pettibon continues his references to both high and low culture employing his signature motifs of the surfer, baseball players, etc... Pettibon is one of the few artists today who is able to create these highly poetic constructions by employing all these different cultural levels.