I WANT A WORD – OR MANY WORDS – AND WILL PAUSE. This is one of many phrases scrawled in large print across the walls of David Zwirner where Raymond Pettibon To Wit is currently on view. More of an installation than an exhibition, this one large room includes dozens of Pettibon’s works on paper, ranging from life size images of baseball players to small doodles. His various appropriations from literature and pop culture spill off the pages of his work and onto the walls themselves, creating a wholly encompassing experience. Entering this gallery is entering Pettibon’s world, where California punk-rock culture meets Henry James and Gustave Flaubert. The presentation of the works tacked casually to the wall enhances the sense that we have wandered into Pettibon’s private space, where he himself continues to explore the intersection of high and low culture, the language of literature and advertising, and humor and violence. One could spend hours literally reading the text throughout this incredible exhibition, highlighting Pettibon’s “long-standing interest in the way language moves through its many registers” (Press Release).
I highly recommend this exhibition. Not only are the individual works interesting and complex, but the presentation is exciting and engaging. Originally meaning “to know,” To Wit, plays on the nuances of language, both visual and verbal, and pushes the boundaries of what we know.
To Wit is on view through Oct 26.