Raymond PettibonPoint Break
Pettibon is known for his characteristically enigmatic aesthetic and his sharp satirical critiques of American culture. Although steeped in cynicism, his work empathises with the dizzying madness of our own humanity as it engages with both high and low culture. Of the many motifs in Pettibon’s work, perhaps the most poetic is that of the surfer. In 1985, Pettibon began his popular Surfers and Waves series – which he continues to work on to this day – to depict a lone surfer silently carving ‘a line of beauty’ along an impossibly large wave.
This publication traces a selection of over one hundred surfers from the series, from small monochrome works on paper to large-scale colourful paintings applied directly to the wall. For Pettibon’s protagonist in these works, surfing exists apart from everything else. He momentarily achieves sublimity on the wave, distant but synchronous with turbulent reality. We are forced to confront our own scale: small and weak in the face of the power of nature, of what is beyond our control. Pettibon’s lyrical writings on these painted surfaces – whether his own lines or lines from literature – refer to his own philosophies and confusions of reality: he criticizes and points out the hypocrisies and vanities of the world he engages with. To help him navigate, academic Brian Lukacher explores the art historical antecedents in Pettibon’s work, particularly J. M. W. Turner’s seascapes, and Jamie Brisick, writer and former professional surfer, examines the surf and music culture of Southern California during Pettibon’s youth. Professional big wave surfers Emi Erickson and Stephanie Gilmore also describe the sensory experience of conquering the huge waves depicted in Pettibon’s work.
- MIT Press
- Language English
- Format30.5 x 22.9 cm