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Marilyn Monroe tweaking a nervous Mickey Mouse. Malcolm X impaling a cartoon character on his finger. Jesse Helms on the cross: these images notwithstanding, Ron English has always claimed to be a landscape painter. What he paints is the landscape of modern culture, where every image is a loaded image and new, inventive groupings of images lead to deeper understanding of and greater versatility in conjugating the visual vocabulary of the postmodern age.

To understand Ron English is to understand his times, for English's work is loaded with the visual iconography of his generation. He is interested in exploring the range and power of a deeply American symbology using Pop imagery as metaphor.

In juxtaposing loaded images, he forces the viewer to synthesize shared cultural reaction to a certain image with personal and unpredictable interpretations triggered by memory association.

The images are carefully selected and combined to create, by their relationship to each other, a complete visual idea that balances the obvious with the ambiguous, subtle with banal, instant recognition with compelling mystery. This integration of art and popular culture underscores all aspects of his work.

English's art has always exhibited definite socio-political undertones, but an equally pervasive strain evident throughout the course of his work is the celebration of humor. Although the artist is passionate in expressing his views on life and art, he is always mindful of the power to be found in breaking the momentum of the didactic approach. Therefore nothing is sacred and everything is subverted. Somewhere between the subtle barb of a political or in-art pun and the visual equivalent of slapstick lies the true power of the paintings themselves.


All Paintings O/C

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1997 by chip sommer.... email to
last revised 12/14/97