Point Break: Raymond Pettibon, Surfers and Waves
This book spotlights a selection of more than one hundred works from the artist's series depicting surfers and surf culture. The works included range from smaller monochromatic works on paper to colorful large-scale paintings applied directly to the wall. For the protagonist in each of these works, surfing exists apart from all else; it is a place where they can momentarily achieve sublimity on a wave, meditative yet synced with a turbulent reality. Viewers encountering these works are forced to confront their own scale: small and feeble in the face of the power of nature and forces beyond their control.
Pettibon is known for his characteristically enigmatic aesthetic and sharply satirical critiques of American culture. Though drenched in cynicism, his work empathizes with the dizzying madness of our own humanity as it engages both so-called high and low culture. Perhaps most poetic among the many motifs present in Pettibon’s oeuvre is the surfer. In 1985, Pettibon began a series depicting surfers riding waves, which he continues to work on to this day. These popular works depict a lone surfer silently carving “a line of beauty” along an impossibly large wave.
Pettibon’s lyrical writings on these painted surfaces, both his own and lines taken from literature, are references to his own philosophies and the many confusions associated with reality. The artist critiques and highlights the hypocrisies and vanities of the world he engages. To help navigate viewers' understanding of these works, the book includes an essay by the scholar Brian Lukacher that explores art-historical antecedents in Pettibon’s work—particularly the seascapes of J.M.W. Turner. Also included is a piece by Jamie Brisick, the writer and former professional surfer, that examines the Southern California surf and music culture of Pettibon’s youth. Professional big wave surfers Emi Erickson and Stephanie Gilmore also describe the sensory experience of conquering the enormous waves depicted in Pettibon’s works.
Raymond Pettibon's work embraces a wide spectrum of American high and low culture—from the deviations of marginal youth to art history, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality. The artist's drawings take as their points of departure both the Southern California punk-rock culture of the late 1970s and 1980s and the do-it-yourself aesthetic of album covers, comics, concert flyers and fanzines that characterized the movement. Pettibon's work have come to occupy their own genre of potent and dynamic artistic commentary, ranging from punchy and political to high literary and extremely poetic.
This book spotlights a selection of more than one hundred works from the artist's series depicting surfers and surf culture. The works included range from smaller monochromatic works on paper to colorful large-scale paintings applied directly to the wall.More