I was lucky enough to see Ron English's exhibit "Living in Delusionville"—which features 37 paintings and sculptures created by English over the past decade—at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona this past weekend. I've been a big fan of English since I first encountered his work through a college course I teach about the Walt Disney company. In that course we spend a few weeks exploring how contemporary artists for decades have taken up Disney imagery in their (often activist, anti-Disney) art. We read Holly Crawford's book Attached to the Mouse, which features contemporary artists such as Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Warhol, Chagoya, Thiebaud, Helnwein, Boltanski, Dion, and Pensato, and explores "the impact of Disney, including artists' economic and psychological motivations, on contemporary art."
Ron English's work fits into this lineage, as he also uses iconic Disney imagery, along with images and figures from across the popular culture spectrum, to provide commentary on America's political, social, cultural, and economic obsessions. English's website describes the current exhibit at Mesa Arts Center, which runs through January 22, 2023:
Known as the Godfather of Street Art, Ron English has emerged as one of the most influential and controversial artists of our time. Taking direct inspiration from the legendary Andy Warhol, English merges American iconography with art history to create social and political statements about contemporary American society. From Ronald McDonald to Mickey Mouse, no cultural icon is sacred.
chronicles the life and times of Ron English. Combining archival footage, animation and interviews with participants who offer intimate insight into the mercurial artist. The documentary takes the viewer through English's unique universe and the world he has created and coined Delusionville.
You can watch the trailer here. And if you get a chance to go see the exhibit, it's definitely worth checking out!