Ron English, Artistic Geniusby Shardul, 06 Jan 2020
The first time I saw Ron English’s art was in the documentary “Super Size Me” in my 12th grade Health class. (A long time ago, admittedly, but what better occasion than the turn of the decade to finally convert those drafts into actual posts?) He was introduced on screen much the same way as any documentary guest might be announced, with a banner reading something like “Dr. Dieto, nutrition expert”, except in this case it was “Ron English, artistic genius”. Me and my friend Eric from math club thought this was absolutely hilarious. Nobody else in the class laughed. This is probably why I remember the name.
But more than the name, I remember the art, even though it was on screen for only a few seconds, because Ron English truly might be an artistic genius. The documentary was about the severe public health hazard that is the American fast food industry, and English’s art was spot on. Terrifying cartoon depictions of an obese and grinning Ronald McDonald who knows exactly what Americans are paying for at the red-and-yellow drug dealer; colorful and inviting landscapes of industrialized food products, mascots, and the culture around them, that rapidly get more morbid, dark, and ridiculous the closer you look at them; perfect parodies of modern commercials in all their sexy, glittering, calorie-packed glory. Try an image search for “Ron English food” or take a look at his website gallery for a varied sample of his works (warning: may be considered NSFW by some, especially the “udderly delicious cowgirls”).
I love how all of English’s art is delightfully satirical. Your eyes are drawn in even as you realize it’s all a trick, and you can’t get yourself to look away from what you once thought was a completely normal, appealing, colorful picture. To comprehend culture and to offend it in one go is not easy…