Surfer paintings of Raymond Pettibon are awash with action and natural power...
By Rob Wilkes
Balanced somewhere between a spiritual adventurer and an adrenaline junkie, the surfer is a Californian icon and the hero of Raymond Pettibon’s symbolic works, currently being revisited at Venus Over Manhattan, New York.
The artist has a gift for cramming a quart of action and emotions into pint pot paintings, relatively speaking, and has the ability to convey the huge scale of a monster wave and the fragility of the human figure in deft strokes.
Pettibon portrays his surfers as solitary riders on a journey of discovery, at the mercy of tremendous forces which could overwhelm and crush them at any moment. Textual additions provide food for thought, and take the form of everything from verses of prose and poetry, rhetorical questions, and even paraphrased Newtonian laws. Oddly enough, Raymond don’t surf, although he lives in Venice, California, and has lived in the state since the 1970s. He paints on many topics but this exhibition, entitled Are Your Motives Pure? Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985-2013, concentrates on the wave riders. The show begins on 3 April and runs until 17 May.