Gary Carrion-Murayari on The Cloud of Misreading

Gary Carrion-Murayari, the Kraus Family Curator at the New Museum, one of the curators of the first solo exhibition of Raymond Pettibon The Cloud of Misreading talks about the show and the artist’s works and methods.

The Cloud of Misreading is Raymond Pettibon’s first solo exhibition in Russia. This presentation brings together nearly 400 works by the legendary American artist including drawings with his signature interplay of image and text, zines, videos, ephemera, and more.

Pettibon’s prodigious approach to drawing has resulted in a staggering accumulation of images from history, popular culture, nature, and literature. The artist’s early work from the late 1970s and 80s (distributed in self-published zines and on the covers of album covers in the nascent Southern California punk scene) offered a dark portrait of America in the second half of the 20th century. The protagonists of these works including violent mobsters, crooked cops, compromised women, corrupt youth, deranged hippies, cult members, and dimwitted punks. The stark imagery and darkly humorous captions of these works made Pettibon an underground legend long before he came to the attention of the larger art world.

By the early 1990s, Pettibon’s vision gradually expanded to encompass the breadth and complexity of American history and culture. The tenor of his work shifted from strident to poetic, with a gradual softening of his graphic style and expansion of his subject matter. In the past thirty years, he has created iconic series of drawings on subjects as varied as surfing, baseball, cartoons, natural history, love, war, and his own artistic aspirations and failings. The title of this exhibition evokes the creative use of language that has evolved in Pettibon’s work over the course of his career. The show also features a selection of source material from the artist’s monumental archive, demonstrating the way in which he edits, interprets, and re-contextualizes quotations from texts across disciplines and historical periods. This sculptural approach to writing and literary history has allowed Pettibon to craft an instantly recognizable language, one that is deeply personal and inherently communal, allowing major and minor voices to speak in unison.

Gary Carrion-Murayari

The Cloud of Misreading show brings together around four hundred works, including ephemera and materials from the personal archive of the artist. Most of them are drawings with fragments of text. Garage has published a booklet specially for the Raymond Pettibon show with translations of the texts that constitute the essential part of the artist’s works. You can find the printed version at the exhibition space and download the electronic version below. Poet, translator, and musician Kirill Medvedev has become the Russian voice of Raymond Pettibon. Here you can find a selection of works with their Russian translations.

Download the booklet