RON ENGLISH BIOGRAPHY
Berman/Turner Projects welcomes Ron English for a solo show of new paintings, a body of work, which approaches pop culture in the tradition of American Folk music. As a folk musician might appropriate a well worn melody and rewrite the lyrics to suit his own time and experience, English has expounded on recognizable imagery from advertising to modern art, balancing the comfort of the iconic with the shock of the new. The Marlboro Man remains the distant stoic individual idolized by America, but now appears uncomfortably young. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is still the banal, garish, factory friendly artwork, created using the same techniques and the same assistants as Warhol, but with a psychological/editorial twist that draws the image out of Warhol’s carefully controlled chaos.
Mr. English has exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide for over twenty years, influencing a generation of artists and art lovers with his unique sensibility, in which the familiar is reflected through funhouse mirrors into something disconcertingly new. Recently his commentary and art were featured in the hit movie “Supersize Me,” widening his audience beyond the boundaries of intrepid art seekers, and he has appeared on television in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. He is also the subject of an award-winning documentary, “POPaganda, the Art and Crimes of Ron English.”
Mr. English has worked across the visual arts spectrum, from vinyl sculpture to billboards and oil painting. Whereas most artists can be classified as either conceptual or visceral, Ron English is both, having achieved mastery of the physical medium even as his conceptual basis for painting has deepened into a refined distillation of socio-political observation, humor, and memory. Although his work is highly conceptual, English mothers every inch of the canvas, where each brushstroke is an artistic decision; the resulting humanity and warmth of the work stands as counterpoint to its idea-based origin.
Often using his children as models, and in particular his son as stand-in, English chronicles the soul’s sojourn through Pop dioramas of fear and appetite, aspiration and rage. While paying homage to the great art before him, English maintains his very personal point of view, transforming the public to intimate and the universal to specific. Using a mixture of imagery, medium and process referenced from great masters such as Warhol, Pollack and Picasso, combined with irreverent cherry-picking of populist totems from fast food to cartoons, English creates complex running narratives of his many alter-egos butting headfirst into the Grand Illusion, where unstated cultural norms are exposed and analyzed. This is art that processes the visual touchstones of modern culture into a questioning voice that demands dialog with the viewer on what it means to be alive right now.
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