Opening on September 11, 2007, David Zwirner is pleased to present a new exhibition of drawings by Los Angeles-based artist Raymond Pettibon. This will be the artist's seventh solo exhibition at the gallery. Recently included in the 52nd Venice Biennale, Pettibon is widely considered one of the most influential contemporary artists working today. In 2006 and 2007, Pettibon's work was the focus of an expansive survey, which originated at CAC Málaga, Spain and traveled to Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany. Kunsthalle Wien, Austria hosted a major retrospective in 2006, exhibiting over 500 drawings. Fully illustrated catalogues were published in conjunction with these European solo exhibitions. Pettibon received the Bucksbaum Award following his participation in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. The artist's work will be featured in the upcoming group exhibition, Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, Pettibon was closely associated with the record label SST Records and the punk rock band Black Flag, started by his brother Greg Ginn. Contributing work for album covers, concert flyers, and fanzines and producing photocopied books that the artist distributed himself, Pettibon was a pioneer of the do-it-yourself ethic and aesthetic, which came to characterize Southern California underground culture. Pettibon continues to blur the boundaries of "high" and "low," pulling freely from a myriad of sources that span the cultural spectrum. His obsessively worked drawings tackle aspects of art history, religion, sports, movies, music, and sexuality. In recent years, his thematic scope has become increasingly topical, addressing current political and social concerns, including American foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Finding early inspiration in comic books, Pettibon was interested in the cartoon's mode of generic and economical representation, which allowed for the development of a remote rather than deeply personal drawing style.
Despite his strikingly varied subject matter, certain images have risen to canonical status within the artist's body of work, such as surfers, baseball players, trains, Gumby, Superman, Vavoom, and Charles Manson. Known for his prolific output, Pettibon's works often incorporate text borrowed from literature and other sources, as well as the artist's own original writings. The diverse literary referents for his pen and ink drawings range from Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, pulp fiction, and the Bible. Considering text as vital to his process as the drawn image, Pettibon's visual and textual pairings oscillate from the quirkily connected to the bafflingly enigmatic, always remaining emotionally and intellectually provocative.