photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
with MODERN MEME CULTURE and INSTANTANEOUS global distribution via SOCIAL MEDIA, CONCEPTUAL ART that trades on PARODY and SATIRE is fairly commonplace. its part of the everyday LEXICON that being an engaged consumer of information in our DIGITAL AGE almost requires and it covers every POLITICAL STANCE, GENDER IDENTIFICATION and MORAL PROCLIVITY, for and against. its OVERWHELMING and one gets the sense that with the impending AI takeover of our VISUAL CULTURE things are going to move another rung in the POST-TRUTH world we have collectively stepped into.
with the RENOWNED AGITPROP artist RON ENGLISH there is a MORAL CENTER to his MASH-UP oil paintings and notoriously ILLEGAL guerrilla billboard campaigns that find him utilizing the VISUAL LANGUAGE of POP CULTURE against CORPORATE GREED and GOVERNMENT OVEREACH that does not have whats best for society in mind when game-planning decisions. the recent documentary POPAGANDA: THE ART AND CRIMES OF RON ENGLISH (CINEMA LIBRE, 2005) eloquently presents the risks and rewards of his RIGHTEOUS and REBELLIOUS VISUAL AESTHETIC that lampoons and eviscerates everything from the CORPORATE ICONOGRAPHY of RONALD MACDONALD, JOE CAMEL and MICKEY MOUSE to the VISUAL LANGUAGE of POWER innate in the UNITED STATES dollar as well as countless luxury items. its hard to not appreciate the man and his message of ENLIGHTENED SUBVERSION. especially with his CELEBRATED billboard campaigns that utilized the same FONTS, COLORS, MATERIALS and TEMPLATES used by advertisers. such billboard posters were so SEAMLESS and PROFESSIONAL that they would last a few days before being taken down. his effort was one of RECLAIMING PUBLIC SPACE and further continuing the conversation with marketing and advertising firms. he was attempting to democratize the VISUAL POLLUTION citizens are subject to on a daily basis.
its all very INTERESTING because at its core these billboards are rather EPHEMERAL. yes, they have a (PASSIVE) audience that dwarfs that of a successful gallery exhibition, but ultimately his work will be discarded with a short shelf-life both in terms of the MESSAGE and the MEDIUM. such is why he made the decision to diversify into traditional oil painting. this is where i unknowingly became familiar with some of his work, namely the STRIKING album cover of THE DANDY WARHOLS' fourth album WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE (CAPITOL, 2003), KORN's THE SERENITY OF SUFFERING (ROADRUNNER, 2016) and ICONIC GUNS N' ROSES / VELVET REVOLVER guitarist SLASH's more recent SLASH (EMI, 2010), WORLD ON FIRE (ROADRUNNER, 2014) and LIVING THE DREAM (ROADRUNNER, 2018) solo releases. his style is BOLD and VIBRANT and makes use of models to provide ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES on ICONOGRAPHY sourced from all things FILM, TELEVISION and FAST FOOD. his work is focused around the common CULTURAL APPROPRIATION of everyday icons mashed together OUT-OF-CONTEXT to great effect, but it isnt KITSCH. there is a deliberate statement being conveyed about the INHERENT DISPOSABILITY of daily AMERICAN life and the CRASS CONSUMERISM that seemingly defines our how the collective HOPES and DREAMS of our CULTURE are defined.
it is difficult not to side with ENGLISH and discover DEEP HUMOR and IMMENSE HUMANITY in the CLEVER MESSAGING of his work. POPAGANDA: THE ART AND CRIMES OF RON ENGLISH is essential viewing in my opinion.