Ron English is a vigilante artist–pursued by police, admired by art lovers.
English, who became infamous in the 1980s for illegally appropriating billboards to create often-politically motivated art, premieres his latest exhibition tonight at the Opera Gallery NY from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibition, “Crucial Fiction,” is a “series of paintings revealing an inspired collaboration with his former self,” according to a statement released by the gallery.
The exhibit offers a number psychedelic oil paintings, such as Combrat Rising–which features a child in clown makeup wearing a neon green and purple army helmet with a pink guitar-machine gun around his neck–and Cerebral Celebration–which makes several historical and pop culture references, including portrayals of both the Creation of Adam and Bart Simpson.
“Give me your imagination, and I’ll give you my skills,” English has continually said of the process of creating art, and in this exhibit he certainly shows off his own creativity.
The 44-year-old English is one of the pioneers of Pop-Surrealism and gives audiences a “unique experience with the excitement and vitality of a child, a child who cultivated a bountiful career that has been spread across streets, museums, movies, music, books and television,” the Opera Gallery said.
“Crucial Fiction” is English’s attempt to connect with his younger self and tell his story.
“I want to tell my inner child, help me remember what you saw, and I will make it for you,” English said.
Much of his work, however, is an analysis of contemporary society. During the 2008 election of Barack Obama, for example, English created Abraham Obama, an amalgamated portrait of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Obama.
English, a Gotham resident, has had his work showcased at the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris; and Today Art Museum in Beijing. Shepard Fairey, the popular illustrator who created the Obama “hope” poster in 2008, English”an artist who can paint an advertising satire with the skill of a Renaissance master.”
An accurate description indeed And starting tonight, his work will be displayed not illegally on billboards, but in the safe confines of the Opera Gallery NY.
“Crucial Fiction” by Ron English opens to the public tomorrow and runs November 9–29 at Opera Gallery NY at 115 Spring Street, New York, NY, 10012. The gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.