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In the early 1980s California-based artist Raymond Pettibon first began making his signature inkwash drawings - combinations of cartoon-like images with short, enigmatic texts - to adorn the record covers of underground music groups like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. After turning a generation of punk fans into unwitting art collectors, Pettibon was gradually picked up by the established art world as an artist producing some of the most unusual new representational artwork being made. Although he also produced paintings, collages, artist's book, videos and fanzines, Pettibon is known for his prolific production of drawings. These drawings have a great cumulative effect; they become increasingly intriguing the more one sees of them. Much has been made of Pettibon's literary background and reclusive personality as the biographical sources for these humorous yet dark, complex pictures. Yet the artist claims that his work has nothing to do with his own experience but is culled from the printed pages of American popular underground culture: Gumby, Ronald Reagan, surfers, Joan Crawford. At times his drawings seem almost dashed off from a comic strip; other are more painstakingly drawn.Most are in a simple graphic style combined with bits of text - sometimes weiredly connected to the imagery, but often providing baffling non-sequiturs. His unusual draftsmanship and mysterious personality have made him one of the most sought-after artists currently working in America. After appearing in numerous Whitney Biennials, in recent years Pettibon had his first museum-organized retrospective (at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Drawing Centre) with more than 500 drawings covering some 20 years' work, establishing definitively his reputation in the uppermost ranks of contemporary American art.
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