Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Raymond Pettibon at David Zwirner (Revised)

Raymond Pettibon’s show at David Zwirner does not disappoint his fans. He delivers his usual crude, loose, sketch like works on paper bordering on the poetic. Not only does he provide his viewers with a variety of works to help transform the space from gallery to studio, but his bank of image sources is vast, ranging from larger than life male genatalia to baseball games to a crowd watching an explosion in the sky to him asserting with typical sarcasm, “Either you find my work poetic or not.”

Pettibon’s work, especially in this show, shows us just how malleable the artist is, although I’m waiting for the next ‘chapter’ of the artist. Yes, there are no boundaries for Pettibon, but I wonder when the ‘adult-child’ complex will subside and a maturity within the work will unfold. He’s been in this autopilot of sarcastic, sketchbook aesthetics and studioesque installations for a fair amount of time and I wonder if these characteristics are a crutch, if the artist isn’t just quite done with these aesthetics (which is fair enough, the sponge is still dripping) or if he’s tapping out. I do appreciate his art historical references, especially his renderings of the female nude, reminiscent of renaissance painting except here with a ping of boyish immaturity that has been successful within the work, a balance difficult to achieve.


  1. ‘Raymond Pettibon’s show did not disappoint Pettibon fans’ and may have inspired new fans, if this new audience was seeing this work for the first time. I agree with Matt that Pettibon is on autopilot. I imagine that he is not challenged to change because his involvement with punk rock, surf culture, baseball and literature in his 50’s most likely fulfills a fantasy of who would be able to collect his work. However, even through this criticism, he curated this large space to be intimate with provocative positioning his imagery and words, which feel like very specific moments in his thought process.

  2. "There are no boundaries for Pettibon" is an interesting comment since perhaps his own aesthetics are his boundaries. I would enjoy seeing him push himself to perhaps make a version of his own "ugly" work and see what he would do. However in a way why change what isn't broke? His loose gestures and colorful imagery took me to places of nostalgia and dream at the same time.

  3. I feel like you described the sensation of viewing this show really well, but I wish you would be more specific about what really bothered you about it -- describe exactly what makes it immature. And what makes you think that Pettibon might have an underlying maturity, waiting to break out? I would also like to hear your take on the installation itself, with Pettibon's handwriting, in paint, on the walls. I would also like to see you expand on this idea of malleability in Pettibon’s work. You explain some of the variety of content, but if I hadn’t seen the show, I would want to know more.