Curated by David Platzker of Specific Objects and arranged by Independent Curators International as part of their Exhibitions In a Box series, Raymond Pettibon: The Punk Years, 1978-86 includes a wide range of early drawings made for late 70s and early 80s LA punk and post-punk bands. Posters, artist books, stickers, and album covers are arranged in careful groupings that stretch across the small exhibition space of the McIntosh Gallery.
Found among Pettibon's many contributions to the seminal hardcore band Black Flag, a lone artist book with text by Michael Gira of Swans/Angels of Light stands out. Titled SELFISHNESS, its cover features a hulking man with Frankenstein bangs who reaches for a sleeping woman while thinking: "I want her to dream about what I did to her when she passed out." Other drawings involve many hairy crevices, Xeroxed wounds, and wrestling matches. While under a magnifying glass, an ant's thoughts are sullen and flat: "You're tormenting me and magnifying my problems." Men and women fight with hilarious blandness, their faces slack yet clenched, as if forced to hold expressions for hours. Pettibon's repeated typologies of clichéd icons and pop cultural figures from the 40s, 50s and 60s give instant accessibility to cultural baggage. A certain immediate recognition invites effortless projections and an easy intimacy, heightened by the desperate energy and exhaustion of Pettibon's depictions. Despite so many great lines and grimaces, I have a classic frustration with any exhibition of artist books that are for the most part inaccessible in plastic sleeves.
London-based artist Jason McLean has added a small collection of his own Pettibon material to that of Platzker's. The McIntosh's larger exhibition space is given over to the local artist's recent work. Several of his "soft sculptures" rest on an "H" plinth. Resembling superhero helmets, their materials are listed helpfully, creating gastric associations: "acrylic ink and acrylic paint on masking tape over packaging of food products consumed by the McLean/Copeland family." In his many drawings, McLean's drawn and painted lines are snaky, wormy, fingery, intestinal circuits, moving with a reflexive precision as if meant to be cut out and used as three-dimensional experiments. My brain changes while going through these drawings. A duckbill "O" is punctuated by a basketball, all balanced on the back of a chair in Quiet Hours By the Fire. These are haptic, diagrammatic maps of personal iconography, and all aspects (either careful and economical or large and over-determined) are equally generative. Pettibon's detached lines are failed groan-yawns. McLean's are airborne.
McIntosh Gallery: http://mcintoshgallery.ca/
Raymond Pettibon: The Punk Years, 1978-86 continues until November 3.
Jason McLean: if you could read my mind continues until November 3.
Kim Neudorf is an artist and writer currently living in London, Ontario. Her paintings have shown in the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Stride Gallery, and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. She has contributed writing to FFWD, shotgun-review.ca, Prairie Artsters, Hamilton Arts & Letters, Stride Gallery, and Truck Gallery, as well as her own blog. She is Akimbo's London correspondent.
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