Original Grin: The Art of Ron English
Thames and Hudson
In the realm of art, sometimes things are so overt that it could not be more covert or subversive, specifically when it comes to pop art. Ron English has established himself as a spearhead on the front of artists that lead corporate imagery ad absurdum by infusing his renderings with darker shades of satire, cynicism, surrealism and an idiosyncratic style that gives nods to a range of other contemporary artists yet plays in a league of its own.
It is not further wondrous that his oeuvre was attributed the label of being “propaganda” and that most of his creations and characters have become reference points that at times had tangible impacts on e.g. presidential elections, advertising campaigns and – as the ultimate quality endorsement – a cameo on The Simpsons.
Original Grin: The Art of Ron English is an opulently illustrated tome that compiles four decades of English channelling his alchemy in sculptures, collages, drawings, paintings, street art and everything in between, illuminated and embedded in an extensive interview that sheds light on his approach, methods and inspirations. While all of us are more than ever willingly or not exposed to pop art with all its facets, the book is testament to the fact that English is truly an original artist.
I specifically like the at times subtle influences that can be traced back to the Viennese Actionists and Dadaists when he interacts with previously existing artworks and endeavours into the realm of performance art.
Given that he has been in the game for forty years, Ron English’s wide-ranging art is not only multi-disciplinary but also boundary pushing in that it has always been informed by his curiosity, which ensured that new influences and trends are effortlessly incorporated, signified and absorbed in a manner that creates a whole that is much bigger than the sum of its individual parts.