I have always been fascinated by Ron English‘s prolific phantasmagorical, humorous and subversive creations. For 40 years, living legend and street art pionneer English has relentlessly been fighting capitalism’s negative effects, parodying America’s icons, triggering people’s counsciousness in an implacable and coherent body of work. Imagine how thrilled and honoured I was when I visited Ron and Tarssa English’ home and studio in Beacon, Upstate New York.
The peaceful walls of their white and grey woodhouse facing the Hudson river hosts the most astonishing pieces of art: a collection of art toys perfectly lined up on shelves from ground to ceiling, a dinosaur yarnbombed collaboration with Olek, multiple grinning skull sculptures of Teletubbies and Charlie Brown fill the family living room.
A sharp staircase leads to Ron English’s bright and large studio. During my visit, Ron was painting his 101st interpretation of Picasso’s Guernica, with Walt Disney and Looney Tunes characters. English is utterly focused when he paints. He doesn’t listen to music in order not to be distracted, although he is a musician and a member and lyricist of the band The Electric Illuminati.
Dioramas are a continuous work in progress and a basis for English’s work. The one in his home studio made me think of a modern Jheronimus Bosch world. He also made one in his second studio, located a few miles away from his home, in an abandoned high school bought by a sponsor for artists residencies. The ground of English’s dioramas is made by layers of plastic soldiers, animals and monsters melted into one another, maybe as a reminder of the fact that we all are actually standing on the dead. I could have stayed for hours watching every insane detail, discovering the mashed-up toys and sculptures intricated in caves. Scroll all the way down to check them out and don’t hesitate to enlarge the pics, you won’t believe your eyes.