artist of the day #51: Ron English

Ron English has been mixing ideas of art history, consumerism, pop-culture, and good ole rebel spirit into one of the more diverse libraries of work I can say I have found. His choice of media varies from spray paint, to oil on canvas, to sculptural, to installation. In a strange paradox he hits on some serious issues by seemingly never taking himself or his work all that serious. There is some tongue in cheek humor to almost everything he touches.

I am sure many of us have seen an example when an artist takes the packaging from a given product at the grocery store, and alters it to say something else. The difference with Mr. English is that he takes that design, actually puts it on a box of cereal, then sneaks it back into the grocery store for people to come across. Many graffiti artists will justify their work as an effort against all of the advertising they are suffocated with on a daily basis in the public world. English is one of the artists actually replacing it. He is not the graffiti artist who simply slaps his moniker on a subway wall, he is the graffiti artist making you think and look closer when you least expect it. And as much as he has become a celebrated gallery artist, he has been doing “extra-legal” graffiti since the 80’s.

The subject matter in his work is most often something from mass media or art history, though he does have some favorites. He references the work of Andy Warhol in much of his work and likes to use Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald, and the members of KISS quite often. He has also been known to play off the work of Pablo Picasso, and surrealist artist Rene Magritte. His work is big and bold. It calls for attention, and most importantly, it is fun.

English has designed album art for several artists, created poster art for the movie Supersize Me, and has even gone political with his painting Abraham Obama. He has been known to collaborate with other well-known street artists of our day like Banksy and Swoon. He will also be featured on an upcoming episode of The Simpsons on March 4th along with Shepherd Fairey, Kenny Scharf, and Robbie Conal. Then the world will get a glance at what happens when the pop-artist becomes pop-art.

Check out his site to see more work, what I have shown here is such a small percentage: