This exhibition serves to focus on the recent artistic output by three underground heroes from the worlds of skateboarding, graffiti and punk. Even though each of these artists has now firmly established themselves in the world of contemporary art, there are still common themes between them that hail back to their subcultural roots. It could be described primarily as an overriding sense of concern for and representation of the downtrodden, the outsider, the anti-hero. McGee’s sad, sullen faces and neon-colored geometric panels reflect the archetypal image of man overpowered by omnipresent media, Templeton’s portraits of suburban youths perfectly illustrate the harsh alienation of teenage life, while Pettibon’s drawings and paintings focus sharply on issues of personal/social unrest, life during war and the constant power struggle between a man and his destiny. The fact that this is the first time an exhibition has featured all three artists in such direct proximity to each other will be an interesting statement not only on each artists’ individual style, but also the unique similarities that run through all of their works.
Barry McGee (1968-) comes from a background of creating unsanctioned work on city streets in his native San Francisco. Originally signing his works with the tag “Twist”, the artist draws his force and inspiration from the contrast and tension that exists between the city center and the suburbs, between wealthy districts and the slums. McGee’s signature tags and markings have inserted an element of the individual and the handmade into a depersonalized urban landscape that has become increasingly crowded with corporate logos, trademarks and advertisements. McGee’s complex installations convey a sense of vitality and chaos, juxtaposed with a precarious nature and sense of alienation. Large-scale wall murals, clusters of small, framed drawings and snapshots, various tools and other street detritus make their way into his installations in an almost symphonic fashion. McGee has exhibited his works internationally including Deitch Projects, New York, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Foundation Cartier, Paris, and Fondazione Prada, Milan. McGee currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.
Ed Templeton (1972-) was born in Orange County, California. He grew up in Anaheim, then his family moved to a trailer park in Corona. His father ran off with his babysitter. He eventually moved to Huntington Beach and began skateboarding when he was 13. By the time he was 18 I had started skateboarding professionally and left high school to enter skate contests in Europe. Upon his return he started painting and taking photographs. In 1994 he had his first solo exhibition at Alleged Gallery in New York. Since then he has exhibited his work internationally including exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Kunsthalle, Vienna, ICA Philadelphia, Modern Art, London and Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles. His first hardcover monograph, Deformer, was published in 2008 by Italian publisher Damiani. To this day Templeton still skates professionally and runs a skateboard company, Toy Machine. He lives and works in Huntington Beach, California with his wife Deanna and their cat Ptah.
Raymond Pettibon (1957-) was born in Tucson, Arizona. The fourth of five children, Pettibon earned a degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduating from college, Pettibon worked briefly as a high-school math teacher, but soon after set out to launch a career as a professional artist. A cult figure among underground music devotees for his early work associated with the Los Angeles punk rock scene, Pettibon has acquired an international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary American artists working with drawing, text, and artist’s books. Retrospectives of his work have been held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 2002, an exhibition of his drawings, Plots Laid Thick, was organized by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain, and traveled to the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, and the Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Netherlands. Pettibon’s work was also featured at Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany. Pettibon lives and works in Venice Beach, California. (All works by Raymond Pettibon are shown by courtesy of Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin und Regen Projects Los Angeles.)