Raymond Pettibon a conversation with Mario Pérez (Versión en Inglés)

Raymond Ginn, known as Raymond Pettibon, was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1957. In the following conversation we will have the opportunity to get to know him a little better and appreciate that despite his successful career in the art world, he has managed to preserve his authentic spirit as an individual with true convictions.

Raymond Pettibon. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

MARIO PÉREZ: Much of the art produced at the late 70s and early 80s was more about self-promotion than about art, did you ever found yourself making that kind of move?

RAYMOND PETTIBON: First of all I disagree with that proposition I don’t think the late 70s and early 80s were particularly more about self promotion that other times. We still live in this world, in my case no I haven’t done a thing to promote my art.

MP: Some of your images contain what could be classified as violence, hurt people, etc. How was the reception at that time? Today, is much more easy to see violent content everywhere you turn your head to, with this normalization of violence, how has your imagery changed?

RP: I grew up with the civil rights movements, the Watts riots, both of them the Vietnam war protests with the LAPD battering punk rockers if you don’t mind the baton still hurts. No I don’t think anything changed, to the contrary it is depressing since my whole life there is still police violence against black people and other people. NYPD is a paradise of peacefulness compared to LAPD.

MP:  Had your work ever been censored? Why?

RP: I really don’t think I have been censored but self-censorship yes. The artworld has been fine with my work as far as I know. I am not a loose canon and I am not trying to extend the lines.

MP: What is the role of rationality in your creative process?

RP: Rationality isn’t an issue in my art.

MP: Some of your images don´t have a painted background, only the traces of the drawing, how would you describe the way you make them? Please tell me about your choice of not to paint your backgrounds and not using second layers?

RP: I am an artist who often works in stark black and white. I am not a scenographer does it matter? It is not camera work either.

MP: There is a remarkable presence of texts in your images, would you say they are narrative or symbolic?

RP: I wouldn’t say they are symbolic they imply narrative.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (This being the…), 2019

© Raymond Pettibon

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

MP: Roy Lichtenstein used to choose the most obvious texts for his paintings in order to avoid any meaning, how do you choose the texts for your paintings?

RP: Lichtenstein’s weren’t random texts, if you look at his works by no means he avoided meaning. In my case I have meaning, whatever the fuck that means, isn’t an issue with me, take it as it is. I can’t read your mind nor you. As an artist and a writer the relationship is complicated there is no perfect communication between the two. But that is a fine thing because I am not coercing your mind you can fill in the blanks.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (John Ford directed…), 2019

© Raymond Pettibon

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

MP: Your drawings have been used to accompany a lot of flyers, how would describe your relation with reproduction technologies?

RP: In the beginning they were intimately involved with the reproduction because I had nowhere to go. I wasn’t a gallery or museum artist. They were put up on telephone poles and in books and I still have that resonance of reproduction around my work, even though its much more likely to go on the wall of a gallery or museum than in a fanzine, but that’s still with me. I am not making original manuscripts for collectors to buy. I’ d love to own and live with original works of art but I can’t afford that and reproduction or going to a museum and art galleries has to suffice.

MP: Your family moved to California while you were a young boy, and there are a lot of images you made which contain waves, one could easily say that it is an explicit reference to your own life, but how autobiographical is your body of work?

RP: I grew up in Hermosa beach which broke reached 3 feet, five times a year, it was a surf town with no surf.

So I know the intimacies and the language of surfing without paddling out on the north shore.

MP: Your drawings seem to move between hallucinations and quotidian life in the US, how can you explain it?

RP: You asked me about rationality previously and let me add that hallucination in the context of my work is not an issue

MP: Punk usually fought general taste, so you must have faced many experiences related to refusal, please tell me about it.

RP: Punk was extremely conventional, it was sticking your tongue out or putting the microphone and using on your diaphragm.

I don’t speak for punk punk doesn’t speak to me.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (The Rainmaker), 2019

© Raymond Pettibon

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

MP: What was your motivation to grant some of your images to be used in flyers, album covers, etc.?

RP: What the fuck was I was supposed to do, walk into MoMA with my portfolio. People ask me all the time or anyone who has become a so -called successful artist, what is the ladder of success? Who do you have to do glad hands with? How do you get collectors? How do you get interest? Taking it to the fucking streets, do you know how bad street art is in New York?

Do the fucking work! If it is good you will be recognized not necessarily immediately but you will.

Do whatever I didn’t, John Austin, Ernest Angley, miracle of success ! Buy the prayer water from Peter, that’s the start.

MP: During an interview with Anthony Allen Begnal for No Echo you said that you were never paid for the use of your images in flyers, how would you qualify this gesture? Was it any kind of solidarity? Did the galleries you worked with have any problem with this fact?

Have those images ever been misused?

RP: Has Greg Ginn ever paid anyone without a huge lawsuit? No, I was never paid a cent for anything I did for SST and Black Flag and I don’t want to be either! But, I don’t want these questions creeping up. I have nothing to do with SST and Black Flag.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (Green Picasso.), 2019

© Raymond Pettibon

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

MP: Some artists such as Mike Kelley and Kim Gordon have participated in projects together with you, apart of punk taste, what led you to collaborate with each other?

RP: We shared some of the same interests, we were friends, we were from the same geography at times, Los Angeles, so why not? They were both brilliant in my films and bands.

MP: Punk philosophy is known for questioning the system, power, government structures, museums and galleries are part of those structures, now you exhibit in those kind of institutions, how do you deal with this contradiction?

RP: I follow Johny Rotten and Syd Vicious is that alright with you? Get the fuck our of here with punk rock, grow up!

MP: How would you describe your relation with curators as figures of authority and with capacity of making interpretations of your works?

RP: I ‘ve never had any problems with curators they have allowed me to do whatever I liked, even if I ask them for their opinion.

MP: Did you adopt punk aesthetic as a philosophy or only for its visual qualities?

RP: Neither.

MP: Do you feel comfortable of being identified with punk?Are you still identified with punk ideals?

RP: Yes or no, I don’t give a fuck! I don’t think about punk in my every day, in my every year life.

MP: Your imagery is known for being controversial, for questioning morality, religion, politics, etc. so it is not merely visual, what are Raymond Pettibon´s ethical values about?

RP: I dispute the assertion that my work is controversial, for whom? Punk rockers, certainly not in the art world. It took me five years to grow up if that. I think I was fully formed when I was three, when I learned how to read. If you have issues  you will always be a punk rocker and you will die a punk rocker. Punk rock lives! Right so far.

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (Their borders are…), 2019

© Raymond Pettibon

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner