Los Angeles

Raymond Pettibon

Robert Berman Gallery

The most affecting artwork often proves to be the hardest to write about, and Raymond Pettibon’s obsessive, noirish, text-riddled ink drawings are a case in point. Visually, the works have been likened to a cross between William Blake’s inscribed illustrations, EC Comics, and Gustave Doré’s engravings; indeed, Pettibon’s flat, graphic drawing style and stark, melodramatic compositional sense embody both the rawness and the peculiar lyricism such comparisons suggest. But what really marks Pettibon’s jumpy, metaphysical vision is the “ring of the voice,” to borrow a phrase from one of his works, as it manifests itself in handwritten texts that appear in almost every piece. The “voice” in Pettibon’s art (or is it a chorus?) seems to reach back in time, partaking of a self-consciously literary, 19th-century hybrid poetic diction (“JOINED WITH THE INFLICTION OF GRIEVOUS SIGHT BEFORE THE INFLICTION

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