Kirsten Glass on Raymond Pettibon
I wish I could say I’d followed Raymond Pettibon’s work since his early punk days (he was a member of Black Flag, designed their logo and drew much of their promotional artwork), but I first saw and liked his imagery on the Goo album cover he made for Sonic Youth. When I went to Los Angeles in 1999, I made an appropriately disorientated bee-line for his solo show at MoCA. There were some huge wall paintings – one was of a wave – acting like backdrops punctuating endless arrangements of his smaller ink-on-paper drawings trailing your attention in and out of them and around the museum. With Pettibon I think it’s good to see his work en masse. Going around his show was a bit like taking a tour inside someone’s brain; a place where any sense of a single identity or point of view had long disappeared, giving way to a prolific streaming of strangely visualized thoughts and half-thoughts, impressions, feelings and weird jokes, spoken in different voices from different characters and times, with fragments of writing and imagery interacting like some obscure amateur comic book.
My favourite recurring motif is Pettibon’s non- word VAVOOM which I always imagine is a sort of ecstatic flashpoint which announces a moment where the combined energy of those inky words and pictures – the way we make meanings – has circled too close to the bleak centre of his thinking.
Raymond Pettibon is at Regen Projects, LA
November 5 – December 22