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Are Your Motives Pure?

April 5, 2014

Pettibon – Deeper above all, 2011
Pettibon – Outside! moondogie was, 2013
Pettibon – The lower half, 2011
Pettibon – What need o, 1999

Are Your Motives Pure?

By Ana Bambic Kostov

Los Angeles came as a natural base to Raymond Pettibon, an artist who has been portraying the American society since the 70s. His expansive picture and text combining body of work is brimming with works composed upon the symbolism he created while he was absorbing a plethora of influences found in Southern Californian punk rock albums, flyers, comics, posters and zines. Along with some of the most iconic of infamous figures in the American modern history, his work is characterized by a wide collection of poetic surfing inspired works. His surfer paintings disclose a hero, who rides the wave where it takes him, brave at heart and true to the core, emotional, but strong, constantly in danger of being swept away by the intoxicating, potent sea currents.

Are Your Motives Pure? Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1987-2012 is the title of Raymond Pettibon’s new exhibition opened at the New York gallery Venus Over Manhattan on April 3. The show is dedicated to his surfer paintings alone, spanning over 25 years of his prolific career. The works on display encompass early small pieces in ink, many paintings from the 90s vitalized by color, and a large scale group of masterpieces, which embody all the might of Pettibon’s linework and his preferred nautical motif. Are Your Motives Pure? will run through May 17, 2014.

Wall of Tumbling Water

The title of the exhibition is taken from the earliest piece displayed at Venus Over Manhattan from 1987, which is the first in the group of black ink small works, conveying the power of the ocean and the isolation of a man determined to stand up to it. Most of the works are untitled, with their names coming from the poetic inscriptions incorporated within the composition.

While the artwork from the 90s introduces new chromatic values into Pettibon’s art, by the 2000s the surfer paintings develop into elaborate, impressive compositions, while the hero assumes a clear shape of a vessel through which the artist delivers his socially, environmentally or otherwise conscious message. The most recent pieces are ode to the relentless forces of nature, as the humongous walls of tumbling water stand against the miniature shape of the surfer, evoking the artist’s own life path, his introspection on fame, innocence and boldness, ultimate solitude and the ephemeral quality of living.

Finally, the biggest surprise to the spectator may be the fact that this Venice Beach based artist is, in fact, not a surfer. He is merely an observer, or interpreter if you will, who picked an archetypal surfer and gave him the role of an icon, while his gigantic, frightening and beautiful waves stand as a metaphor for the ocean of life.

About Raymond Pettibon

Based in Southern California since the 70s, Raymond Pettibon was born in Tuscon, Arizona in 1957. The 80s marked the obvious rise in his artistic career, after which his work was exhibited worldwide in the USA and throughout Europe. His work is included in prestigious modern art collections such as the Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, SFMoMA, Tate Gallery London, Whitney Museum of American Art and others. Pettibon divides his time between the glory of New York and the beautiful ocean scenery of Venice Beach, California.

About Venus Over Manhattan

Venus Over Manhattan is a New York space serving as a platform for art shows and projects realized in collaboration with all the art market participants, from artists to institutions. The gallery is not limited to any style, as it showcases historic as well as contemporary art.

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