Raymond Pettibon Press Release
October 25—November 29, 1997
On Saturday, October 25, the gallery will open with an exhibition of drawings by Raymond Pettibon. This will be the artist's second exhibition at David Zwirner. On view in the gallery will be a selection of small and large works on paper. The artist will also create large-scale wall drawings, made specifically for this show that deals with issues of philosophy. His work is also currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the exhibition, "A Decade of Collecting: Selected Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Drawing" (through January 19th, 1998). The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago are planning a major retrospective of his work for 1998. The Kunsthalle Bern will also be publishing a new catalogue, edited by Ulrich Loock, to be released later this winter.
In the late 1970's, Pettibon adopted a drawing style which was similar to that found in American comic books. The cartoon's mode of presentation enabled Pettibon to use a more remote, generic drawing style as opposed to a very personal one. Pettibon was not interested in the way linear narrative was used in comics; in his work, pictures and text are very often not connected in an obvious, logical way. Instead, he unifies picture and text through his curious treatment of text as a formal element of the composition. As the amount of text in his work increases, which is the case in his later work in particular, text and picture grow to become equal compositional elements; thus heightening the viewer's need to produce meaning out of contradictory elements.
Drawing from a wide range of sources, Pettibon's work manifests an almost incomprehensible depth of ideas, subject matters, associations, and metaphors, completely erasing any boundary between "high" or "low." Pettibon makes no distinction between his own prose, and that of other writers, or philosophers. He is particularly drawn to the pioneers of modernist writing, such as James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Marcel Proust; their prose is likely to show up alongside Pettibon's signature motifs such as baseball players, religious symbols, "Gumbys", or surfers. Entering through every imaginable cultural level, Pettibon creates highly complex constructions, that are visually economical yet poetically taut and complex.