If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Friday, August 13, 2010

Popaganda: the art of Ron English

Ron English is an "agit-pop" and culture jamming street artist who bends and twists popular advertizing and cultural icons in all kinds of directions. English's inspirations include Andy Warhol and uses his image and style in his works. His paintings are often photorealistic with a neon color pallate frequently using his children as subjects in odd settings. Or he can take a modern painting (he has done dozens of alterations of Picasso's Guernica)and pop-ulate it with his own characters, add KISS make-up to the subjects of a classical painting as a parody of "high art," or add a black boy to a Norman Rockwell painting (above) as a critique of Rockwell's all white world. His artwork often serves as a critique of modern consumerist culture using humor rather than a sword to cut his enemies. His obese Ronald McDonald and Marilyn with Mickey Mouse breasts have themselves beome part of pop iconography.

Ron English has been doing illegal street since the 80s. Called culture jamming, English uses mainstream media images to subvert mainstream media, such as MdDonalds, Camel cigarettes, and Disney. He hijacks public billboards to transgress consumerist advertizing liberating the space for an alternative social vision. Unlike graffiti artists, English produces slick, realistic images mimicing actual billboard advertisements.

Religious images are not off limits for English. He has done images of his son as Christ (above), a nun, and archbishop, himself as Jesus Christ, and Mickey Mouse crucified on a mousetrap or American Express card.

In the hands of Ron English pop icons and art become tools for subverting destructive and mind-numbing aspects of our consumerist culture.

Ron English wesite: http://www.popaganda.com/blog1.php

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