Ron English (artist)
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English at the 2012 New York Comic Con.
English is as known for his photorealist technique and use of color and comic book collage as he is for his unique cast of characters, including sexualized animals, skeletal figures, Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts, the corpulent fast food spokesman MC Supersized, and one of his most significant creations, Abraham Obama, a fusion of America’s 16th and 44th Presidents.
English was one of the on-camera subjects interviewed in the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, which showcased his McDonald's-themed artwork, which was inspired by English's reaction to the negative effect that franchise has had on American culture.
English has also painted several album covers including The Dandy Warhols album cover "Welcome to the Monkey House". He painted the cover of the new Slash. He later painted the cover for American superstar Chris Brown's Album (F.A.M.E). Some of his paintings are also used in Morgan Spurlock's documentaries Super Size Me and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Following the credits, he receives special thanks and is credited as "The Greatest Living Artist."
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In addition to his fine art painting, English has been involved in street art. This has included creating illegal murals and billboards that blend stunning visuals with biting political, consumerist and surrealist statements.
Culture jamming is one aspect of English's work, involving 'liberating' commercial billboards with his own messages. Frequent targets of his work include Joe Camel, McDonald's, and Mickey Mouse. Ron English can be considered the "celebrated prankster father of dollar-pop", who wrangles carefully created corporate icons so that they are turned upside down, and are used against the very corporation they are meant to represent. Ron English has initiated and participated in illegal public art campaigns since the early eighties. Some of his extralegal murals include one on the Berlin Wall's Checkpoint Charlie in 1989 and one on the Palestinian separation wall in the West Bank in 2007, with fellow street artists Banksy and Swoon (artist).
During the 2008 Presidential Election, he combined the features of Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln for a distributed image entitled "Abraham Obama". Abraham Obama began with an original oil painting, which was photographed to produce a print. The “Abraham Obama” print was sold to raise funds for and promote the Obama campaign. 200 prints were created and are currently selling on the aftermarket for more than ten times their original value.
“Abraham Obama” was also used in a series of street murals installed in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver. The image was shown on television and in newspapers and magazines in countries including Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France, Poland, and Iran. The mural consisted of the image, repeated in rainbow effect color combinations of 14 panels, each 12 by 6 foot. Portions of the celebratory video of Will.i.am’s “It’s a New Day” were filmed in front of the LA Abraham Obama mural.
In 2006, English premiered his 12 x 27-foot interpretation of “Guernica” at the Station Museum in Houston. Ron’s painting, Grade School Guernica, is one foot longer and one foot taller than Picasso’s original, featuring a psychodrama acted out by his children, and viewed from the point of view of the bomber airplane. Grade School Guernnica explores the nature of violence, from schoolyard play to global carnage, as it comments on the embedding of propaganda into cultural references largely taken for granted.
His show "Lazarus Rising", at Elms Lesters in 2009, was based on resurrection and reinvention in troubled times. The show featured a lot of comic book collage and oil on canvas pieces, where if you looked carefully, you would trace the genesis of the characters and follow the arc of their inner life." His exhibition Season of Supurbia took place in 2009 at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City. Ron's most recent show "POPagandastan", consists of a series of painted canvases meant to depict an expansive universe that lies just beneath the surface of one's consciousness.
- Drake, John C. (2008-07-08). "Street artist inspires too much enthusiasm". Boston Globe.
- Borrell, Alexandre (2010-06). "Peut-on greffer le visage d'une icone ?". Parlement(s), Revue d'histoire politique.
- Spurlock, Morgan (2004) Super Size Me. Samuel Goldwyn Films. MC Supersized is English's version of Ronald MacDonald. He is what Ronald would look like if he actually ate the food that MacDonald’s peddles. Ron considers him the western Buddha, in that our religion is consumerism and he is the over-sated consumer. Roadside Attractions
- Dodero, Camille (2008-11-14). "Ron English Might Still Have That Last Unreleased Wesley Willis Record". Village Voice.
- "Ron English Covers Art Nouveau Magazine’s Summer Issue". Art Nouveau. May 17, 2010.
- Musat, Stephanie (March 3, 2012). "Artist Ron English, who resides in Jersey City, will appear on the next episode of The Simpsons as himself ". NJ.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ron English.|
- Abraham Obama - Art Project
- VIDEO Ron English talks about his work on ABC FORA
- Opera Gallery Collection
- Ron English - Surreal Art Collective
- Songs In English - Music Project
- Fringe Galleries
- Ron English: Abraham Obama DVD Trailer
- Group show of street art curated by Ron English