Los Angeles-based artist Raymond Pettibon (Born 1957, Tuscon, Arizona) has created a vocabulary of symbols that reappear consistently if enigmatically across his oeuvre. These range from baseball players, vixens, light bulbs, and railway trains, to the cartoon character Gumby and infamous murderer Charles Manson: pet themes repeated and reworked in a classically American combination of abundance and monotony. But the most poetic and revealing of Pettibon’s symbols may be the surfer, the solitary longboarder challenging a massive wave.
Are Your Motives Pure? Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1987-2012, brings together forty works spanning a quarter century of the artist’s career, on loan from important collections. Among works on view are early small-scale, monochrome India ink paintings; numerous paintings from the 1990s when the artist introduced color to his work; and a group of rare, large-scale paintings measuring up to nearly 10 feet wide. Though he lives and works in the storied beach town of Venice, California, Pettibon is not a surfer. Nor can the paintings on view at Venus Over Manhattan be considered "surfer art;" they do not attempt to represent a real surfing scene.
Venus Over Manhattan Website