At first look, Raymond Pettibon’s exhibition “Pacific Ocean Pop” appeared sparse. Although the present contained dozens of current drawings and collages by the prolific draftsman and satirist, recognized for layered, enigmatic, and infrequently humorous portmanteaus of textual content and picture—an illustrated guidelines ran to twenty-eight pages—Regen Projects’s white field house was left virtually solely open, and the gallery was empty of different guests attributable to pandemic protocol. Organized into thematic clusters surrounded by huge expanses of white wall, the works revolved round pop cultural references and motifs that the artist has employed for many years, together with golden age comedian guide superheroes, Main League baseball, the clay animation character Gumby, and movie noir. The semiotic open-endedness of the person drawings was tempered by their association into well-spaced groupings, providing navigable pathways for interpretation.
The thematic core of the set up was the ocean, with massive drawings of waves anchoring neighboring clusters of smaller pictures. In them, rhythmic strokes of blue, inexperienced, brown, and chartreuse articulate the concave span of ocean waves as intersecting currents peak in peak. The waves are about to engulf the small grey determine of a surfer in No Title (Making a wave); in No Title (Str8 Line) and No Title (The Clear-cut forehead), all 2020, solely the boards seem, rendered as crescent slivers of brilliant purple and yellow peeking by. Pettibon invokes the ocean’s allegorical depth, the drawings hinting at the whole lot from looming local weather disaster to the expertise of picture and information saturation in a world more and more lived on-line.
Directly spontaneous and studied, Pettibon’s pen-and-ink compositions evoke the caricature of Honoré Daumier, the comics of R. Crumb, and the late Seventies and ’80s second-wave Los Angeles punk period with which he’s generally related. In 1976, he designed the long-lasting four-bar emblem for the hardcore band Black Flag, whose founding singer, Greg Ginn, is the artist’s brother. Pettibon has typically parodied the emblem, highlighting each its renown and the ennui that accompanied its mass tradition absorption. In No title (2019), the uneven bars seem to “model” (in strokes of black ink) the buttocks of a cropped seminude feminine determine whose butt cheek additionally boasts a five-pointed-star tattoo. No title (I hate that), 2020, options 5 strong black rectangles of various heights, resembling a bar graph. Topped by Pettibon’s signature all-capital lettering, each appears to wage a criticism. One says, “I hate the squares”; one other, “I can’t inform you how a lot I hate the phrase ‘picture.’” At far proper: “That is going to be a blockbuster.” The drawing speaks, self-reflexively and albeit, of the repetition—and the boredom—that goes into constructing a long-lasting cultural model.
“Generally it’s not what you might be saying however the way you say it that basically issues,” Pettibon commented in a 2017 interview. “The language is on hearth and also you simply spit it out.” Left unframed and affixed to the wall with thumbtacks, the works’ show heightened this sense of immediacy. However Pettibon, who now lives in New York, felt much less current on this present than in earlier shows, for which he has typically spent prolonged time inhabiting the exhibition house, inserting works immediately, and generally drawing immediately on the wall. The ensuing power and messiness have been lacking from this present, however the apocalyptic tone couldn’t have been extra apt for the current day.