Are Your Motives Pure?
Text by Adam Lindemann and Carlo McCormick
Since the 1970s, Los Angeles–based artist Raymond Pettibon (born 1957) has created a vocabulary of symbols that reappear consistently if enigmatically across his oeuvre. These range from baseball players, vixens, light bulbs, and railway trains to the cartoon character Gumby and infamous murderer Charles Manson. But the most poetic and revealing of Pettibon’s symbols may be the surfer, the solitary longboarder challenging a massive wave. In his “surfer paintings,” viewers ride along with a counterculture existentialist hero who perhaps is the artist’s nearest proxy. Almost all of the works included in this volume depict an ocean roiling with chaotic swells, accompanied by non-sequiturs, quotations, and bits of poetry in the artist’s handwriting. Among these works are early small-scale, monochrome India ink paintings; numerous paintings from the 1990s when the artist introduced color to his work; and a group of rare, large-scale paintings.
Venus Over Manhattan, New York 2014
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