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A Drifter’s POV Colors Landscapes of the American West

Drawing visuals along his path, artist Ray Pettibon pursues the complexities of Americana by combining artistic elements.
No Title (Never had a...), 2016, ink and acrylic on paper, 129.5 x 140.3cm / 51 x 55.25in. All images courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ

A locomotive train barreling ahead of its own smoke, and a black crow sprouting whiskers, are two images that hold court to the poetic mantras spilling across Ray Pettibon’s newest series of drawings and paintings. Best known for a punk-rock sensibility that began in the 80s, the Southern California painter derives his latest collection from scattered locales throughout the United States. Trailing from place to place, Bakersfield to Barstow to Cucamonga to Hollywood plays the drifter by taking no designated direction in its subject matter. The series’ dense, painterly strokes and images of the heartland (a woman’s smiling face framed by a short permed hairdo; a baseball player winding up for the pitch) help evoke a bold, deeply American style.


Pettibon prides himself on perfecting the artistry of the mish-mash image, at times even creating collages. He alternates between close-ups and distant perspectives, monochrome and highly saturated colors, and isn’t against combining the styles of several eras of art history. The method to the artworks' madness is present, but Pettibon never applies structure too closely, as he finds the beauty in broken rules. Pettibon shares in a press release, “All these closed fields…hard-edged and soft-edged, and flat… What does it measure, what does it ultimately say? It cuts…from the world the complexity that exists, which I deal with in every fucking drawing I make [sic].”

No Title (The greayt power…), 2016, ink on paper, 101.6 x 139.7cm / 40 x 55in

No Title (We see him…), 2016, ink on paper, 56.5 x 76.2cm / 22.25 x 30in

No Title (The year 1969…), 2016, collage, acrylic and ink on paper, 73.7 x 76.2cm / 29 x 30in

No Title (Crow quill. Throughout…), 2016, ink and acrylic on paper, 111.8 x 76.5 cm / 44 x 30.12in

Ray Pettibon’s Bakersfield to Barstow to Cucamonga to Hollywood shows at Sadie Coles HQ from June 25 to August 2, 2016. Click here to learn more. To see more of Raymond Pettibon’s artwork, click here.


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