INTERVIEW: RON ENGLISH

Ron English Talks Plastik

Lebanon needs Ron English. Drive anywhere in the country and have your view blocked by a billboard jungle ordering you what to wear, buy, drink and eat. And the jungle continues to grow every day. Bring on Ron English who, with his oil paintings and billboard hijackings, has fought for decades against the pollution of the human mind and public space by corporate messaging.

Ron, you’ve “liberated” some 1000 billboards in your life. What did billboards ever do to you? 

“They blocked out 100% of the scenery, but I actually only went over 1% of the billboards that blocked my view.”

 

How do you do it? How do you liberate a billboard? 

“All I can say is that usually someone helps me and that I use wheat paste.” 

 

They say Goebbels died in 1994, yet he seems alive as hell. What do you say?

“Yeah, I think I’ve seen some of his handiwork lately. Just look at talk show host Rush Limbaugh, for example, or Fox News.”

What’s the genius of Andy Warhol? 

“The fact that you just asked me that question.”

 

What is a pop artist to you? 

“Pop art is any art which is drawn from pop culture or which is popular culture itself.”

 

What you think of someone paying some $25 million for a polished steel heart by Jeff Koons?

“As long as they can sell it to someone else for $30 million, why not?”

 

Has pop art fallen victim to the same system of mass production and commercialization it once set out to criticize? 

“I don’t think pop art was criticizing it. I think it was embracing it.”

 

ArtELI REZKALLAH