Raymond Pettibon: Whatever It Is You're Looking For, You Won' t Find It Here
Interview by Rudolf Reust. Text by Thomas Mießgang, Gerald Matt, Edward Dimendberg.
The by-now widely known cult artist Raymond Pettibon was first recognized outside of the art scene for creating flyers, concert posters and album covers for the independent record label SST, owned by his brother, Greg Ginn. But he soon distanced himself from the Californian hardcore punk scene and developed, sometimes in books, sometimes on single sheets, his "Tragédie humaine," which has continued to chip away at America's understanding of itself, deconstructing popular myths in a disturbing connection of image and text, for many decades now. Pettibon, whose work also includes several feature films and animation works, is a precise artistic observer of the American pop cultural milieux. He finds inspiration in the comic style of Milton Caniff and John Kirby, in 1930s and 40s design, and in the flower-power dreams of later decades, which he gleefully transforms into scenes of bloody massacre. His use of iconic superheroes and super-villains (Batman, Superman, Jesus, Stalin, Charles Manson) as well as several key recurring motifs (trains, penises, surfers, baseball players), in endless variation, creates a visual "remix" as it were. In these black-and-white drawings, which occasionally use red bullet wounds for contrast; in later, color-intensive work, he discovers an enigmatic, cannibalistic world, whose grotesque distortion reveals hidden truths about our own, without completely exposing its secrets. Whatever It Is You're Looking For, You Won't Find It Here includes more than 500 drawings and documentation of a 50-foot long mural, alongside an interview with the artist and two essays.