Although Ron English is one the most prolific and recognizable pop artists in the world, he’s not really a household name to people who, unlike Geoffrey and me, are not completely obsessed with art, or to anyone who has not seen Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Supersize Me, for which English did all of the iconic artwork – including a squat, pudgy cheeked Ronald McDonald known as McSupersize. So, here’s a little introduction to Ron from his Wikipedia page, which I am cutting and pasting here for your edification:
Ron English is an American contemporary artist who explores popular brand imagery and advertising. His signature style employs a mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, including comic superhero mythology and totems of art history, to create a visual language of evolution. He is also widely considered a seminal figure in the advancement of street artaway from traditional wild-style lettering and into clever statement and masterful trompe l’oeil based art. He has created illegal murals and billboards that blend stunning visuals with biting political, consumerist and surrealist statements, hijacking public space worldwide for the sake of art since the 1980s.
In a word, Ron English is rad. On Sunday, September 12th I was very lucky to be one of the first in NYC to visit his latest exhibit, Status Factory, and I can tell you it was well worth waiting in the rain for over an hour to get in. Presented by Opera Gallery, Status Factory occupies a three level retail space in Soho, where over 100 works by English have transformed the store into a surreal, pop art Fantasyland.
Offering a stimulating visual treat at every turn, you’ll see dozens of the images that English is known for, including many works inspired by his deep infatuation with Andy Warhol: the Marilyn Monroes with Mickey Mouse breasts, the camouflage Warhol mash-ups and a new series of portraits called Pubescent Artist, featuring a young boy wearing a Warhol fright wig shown in a succession of stoic poses that reveal only very subtly different facial expressions. The Pubescent Artist series was one of my favorite parts of the exhibit.
Photo Courtesy of ArrestedMotion.Com
There’s also a darkened room clogged with neon-painted, glow-in-the-dark sculptures that resembles something straight out of a head shop’s black light poster room. Status Factory also proudly displays one of English’s most recent and topical works, the Abraham Obama portrait, alongside a painting depicting a tranquil mountain stream beside which a rainbow-striped zebra contemplates bowing its head to take a drink.
A few of the larger canvases include several of his reinterpretations of Picasso’s Guernica, which I found to be very clever and thought provoking. And of course, there’s always room for McSupersize himself. There is just so much to see and ponder at the Status Factory that I’d say you could visit a few times and discover something new on each visit.
I’d also like to thank Ron for giving away signed and numbered prints of his Grin image to the first 100 of us who waited in the rain to get in, and for taking extra, personal time to sign additional items for each person visiting the exhibit. He is a very friendly, gracious person. Ron English!
Experience the wonderful world of Ron English’s Status Factory while you can at 282 West Broadway (C Train to Canal, then walk a few blocks uptown on West Broadway). Open 12 Noon – 8 PM daily from now until October 30, 2010.