Raymond Pettibon

By Hainley, Bruce | Artforum International, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Raymond Pettibon


Hainley, Bruce, Artforum International


REGEN PROJECTS

Encircled by an inky Stonehenge of noses hangs one of the most seemingly innocuous drawings in Raymond Pettibon's amazing new show: a title page torn from a book, stamped "Withdrawn from the Los Angeles County Public Library" in red ink. The book, The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust, is a sadly long-out-of-print volume by Howard Moss. Near its dose Moss wrote, "Explaining everything, Proust creates a universe that does not exclude the inexplicable." I'm tempted to rewrite Moss's sentence: Including everything, Pettibon creates a universe that does not exclude the unincludable.

A buoy afloat the enthralling graphic cataract of materials flooding the gallery, the little appropriated page provides as helpful a key as any to surfing the tidal wave of work (The mixed metaphor and destabilized progression of that sentence is a shabby attempt to imitate the quick visual/verbal and intellectual shifts, the AC/DC current of the installation.) Rather than be "directed," as is usually the case, Pettibon was left alone to coordinate everything in the gallery, resulting in a site-specific opus. Consisting of murals; drawings (most by Pettibon but some by his nephew and niece) pushpinned on top of and next to, interrupting and completing, those murals; scribbled notes on the walls, written to himself and to his gallerist ("Shaun! Next week I've got it covered--really"); and pages ripped from the bibliomaniac's own paperback collection, some with subtle alterations and blockedout text as well as added drawings and notations, the show is as messy and lively as life. It feels like not just the wor kings of a really interesting mind, but a roam through the skull containing the brain of that mind thinking, the myriad synapses flashing, stopping, switching, even jumping the tracks: the locomotion of thought.

Near the Proust page is a drawing of a face in profile and shadow silhouette depicting how someone looks and how he feels others see him--the difference being a protruding cartoonish schnozz. This image and the Magic Lantern leaf lend the ring of prominent noses religio-racial undertones, the way Proust's own aristocratic swirl is refracted by World War I and the Dreyfus affair. …

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