By: Joseph Licata
Los Angeles-based artist Raymond Pettibon known for representing American icons across his barrage of drawings and paintings in a style born of comic books and the do-it-yourself aesthetic of Southern California punk rock album-covers, concert flyers, and fanzines. Pettibon’s surfers just might be his alter ego.
Though he lives and works in the storied beach town of Venice, California, Pettibon is not a surfer. Nor can the paintings on view at Venus Over Manhattan be considered “surfer art;” they do not attempt to represent a real surfing scene. Instead, Pettibon is elevating the surfer to the top of his repertory of American icons, tracing the figure’s arc through the terrifying and chaotic ocean of life in a manner perhaps more evocative of Edward Hopper than The Endless Summer. Pettibon’s joy in the mythology of surfing is palpable in his sincere images, but fate hovers just beyond his frame, where the crash of his wave will end the surfer’s fleeting moment of glory. Pettibon’s work succeeds in suspending our disbelief.
Raymond Pettibon’s Surfers are at Venus Over Manhattan Gallery
980 Madison Avenue / April 3 – May 17