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Ron English: US Food and “Popaganda”

The red walls of Dorothy Circus Gallery host the irreverent show of the American street artist Ron English (1966, Texas).

1 minute

 

The red walls of Dorothy Circus Gallery host the irreverent show of the American street artist Ron English (1966, Texas).

The first of 2016, English’s solo show is titled “Sugar High” and yes, it is about food, American and unhealthy food. The exhibition, featuring an intriguing body of oils and silkscreens, well fits the city of Rome, and, more generally, Italy, land of Mediterranean diet and recent site of Expo 2015 on food.

 

Ron English, Sugar High, courtesy of Dorothy Circus

Ron English, Sugar High, courtesy of Dorothy Circus

 

Through his straight-forward critique and unmistakable style, English reflects on the theme of food advertising, revealing its ambiguous imaginary as well as its dangerous blending and blinding effect on mind and body.

 

Ron English, Uncle Sam's Last Breakfast, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

Ron English, Uncle Sam’s Last Breakfast, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

 

MC Supersized (displayed in 13 silkscreens), Cereal Killer mascots, and Uncle Scam are the disquieting spokesmen of the corporate culture as well as totems of food industry’s dark side. More than mere actors of advertisements, such icons are portrayed as the real protagonists of a “popaganda” (English).

The artist merges his disturbing characters into mass culture’s shapeless identity and imaginary, as religious icons and beliefs. The exhibition’s masterpiece Uncle Scam’s Last Breakfast (English’s most recent artwork) reveals exactly that. The large oil is an explicit satire about food industry and its perception by the public as a sacred yet imposed phenomenon. God has been replaced by food advertising; Christ by Uncle Sam, and a fat one.

 

 Ron English, MC Supersized, acrylic, spray paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

Ron English, MC Supersized, acrylic, spray paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

 

Unlike Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Oldemburg, English’s critique is not about mass culture and consumerism in general, but about bad food education and its subsequent health issues: much more of a threat, for it directly affects us and our bodies.

The disruptive art of Ron English is an ironic yet temptation for the viewer, who gets teased by his brilliant colors, which – contrarily to what happens in food advertising’s art – aim at raising awareness among the public. The displayed conflict between what we eat and how is it represented in the media aims at shedding a light on “the way food is gaining more and more attention, in relation to people’s lifestyles.”

 

Ron English, Cereal Killer, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

Ron English, Cereal Killer, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

 

Ron English’s solo show at Dorothy Circus Gallery stems from art’s always-more-impellent need for a counter-culture and can fairly stimulate a reflection on art’s role in the new millennium. Will it be always more tended toward street art?

 


Ron English exhibition poster - UberAuraSugar High – Ron English

20 February – 31 March  |  Dorothy Circus Gallery

Address: Via dei Pettinari, 76 00186 Rome

Info: info@dorothycircusgallery.com

Hour:Mon 10:30 am-6:30 pm  |   Tue 10:30 am-7:00 pm  |  Wed-Thu 10:30 am-7:30 pm  |  Fri-Sat 11:30 am-8:00 pm

After earning a BA in Art History (with concentration on modern and contemporary art) she realized her deep interest in museum studies while attending the MA in Visual Arts and Curatorial studies in Milan. Her research is focused on the cultural dynamics of museums and public collections and on their capacity of creating critical spirit within different audiences.

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