"I never grew up with comic books as a kid. I thought they were infantile, which they're not, but that was my impression (...) I borrowed from comic books a lot. Just to learn how to communicate with figures. But it wasn't just comic books, it was also Edward Hopper, there's Rembrandt even, Goya", states Raymond Pettibon in the catalogue for "Homo Americanus", his huge show at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. Let's not forget William Blake and his beautiful image and text combinations in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".
Pettibon makes so many references to the romantic poet: "Dark Juan's dead. They promised him hebbin and gave him hell" we read on an early drawing from the One-Liners series - on the left side of the text someone being hung, below a charred cross. Instead of angels and demons we face fragments of the American myths after the checkless failure of the American dream and 1960ies countercultures. The characters of Pettibon's dystopic works populate the dungeons of the American life and caves of the TVs. Vavoom, a figure that Pettibon has frequently drawn since the mid-80ies, might know the healing magic word, but as Pettibon put's it: "I like him and stuff, but my work is more complicated. It's not that reductive." Pettibon seems to be a time traveller from the early 19th century, a romantic soul, which - facing the aftermath of late capitalism - is no longer allowed to be one.