Raymond Pettibon’s Surf Paintings Ride Into Manhattan
By Maura Egan
Just in time for the winter thaw, the uptown gallery Venus Over Manhattan has opened “Are Your Motives Pure?,” a show of surfer paintings by the artist and cult punk-rock illustrator Raymond Pettibon. The gallerist Adam Lindemann has painstakingly amassed more than 40 greatest hits from small works embellished with the artist’s usual comic-book-style riffs to bold, monumental paintings, from a rarefied group of collectors all over the world.
“Having a Pettibon surfing painting is like having a Richard Prince car hood,” Lindemann says. They’re a slick and sunny slice of American pop culture. But while Pettibon examines the trappings of surf culture in the paintings, the artist, who despite living in Venice Beach, Calif., has never ridden the waves himself, is also dealing with universal truths. These works are about the solitary surfer against the vast ocean, man against nature. “You get a sense that nature is going to swallow him up,” Lindemann notes. “You could see them as disaster paintings.”
“Are Your Motives Pure?” is on view at Venus Over Manhattan, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, through May 17; venusovermanhattan.com.