Hidden in the seemingly random rhythms of splashed paint and a Jackson Pollock action painting are elaborate maps of America’s most sensitive cold-war sites. Or so once was the rumor. It is true that the CIA funded the abstract expressionist movement in an attempt to promote America’s capitalistic vision of personal freedom, but hidden maps, no. Artists have embedded secret meanings in their paintings throughout history. Hieronymus Bosch hid strange musical scores in his paintings, maybe in hopes that one day an astute curator would add a soundtrack to his work. Michelangelo hid a human brain in his work “The Creation of Adam.” That God exists inside the human mind seems to be the hidden message. Of course, for the artists of the symbolist movement every image was metaphorical and needed a decoder ring to get to the real meanings. But perhaps no artist in history has layered more complex, hidden narratives in his work than Ron English. So, don your art historian x-ray glasses and discover the meaning behind the madness.
The white stripes collage are actual comics created during the cold war which completely ignore the war, and the red stripes feature actual comics created during the Vietnam war which comment directly on it.
One of the many secrets hidden in the background is a lightbulb grenade. Ideas can be dangerous.
Multiple Ron English variant characters dance through the painted comics that form the central figure. Here a sea monkey appears much more human than the original cartoon.
Behind the exploding sun/light are symbolic religious characters, including the Alien Illuminati skull.
Features multiple resurrection myths from history, popular culture, and Ron English’s imagination, including Jesus, Mickey Mouse, and Frankenstein.
Mouse Mask Murphy and Skeleton
A cartoon character tries to escape the composition only to have his head split open by his own caption. Ouch!
Poultry Rex Guernica
Reveals multiple creation myths and misguided evolutionary dead ends. But perhaps most essential to the composition is the recently discovered evolutionary link between Tyrannosaurus Rex and his descendent, the common chicken.
Slash and Friends
Even Slash himself didn’t notice all the strange oracles on his album cover until it was blown up to 50 feet for his stage backdrop. This strange alien butterfly is turned into the magic guitar.
All of the characters in the background cartoons have decayed down to their cartoon skeletons. It seems even cartoon characters are not immortal.
The ceiling tiles are made of close ups of the paintings on the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. All history is made equal in modern pop culture.
The Resurrection of Immortality
The corpses of cartoon characters are transmutated back into existence like the reanimated central character of the monster of Frankenstein.
The Virgin Diaries
The Virgin Mary gives birth to modern romantic myths made popular in the comics of the twentieth century.
Art has always revealed more about the artist and the times than perhaps even the artists themselves intended. The polished surface-level pop art of our modern age is a reflection of the unstated values of a consumerist culture. But our culture is as complex and layered with hidden meaning as any culture since antiquity, and Ron English is the interpreter of our secrets, which lay in wait for future art lovers to decode and behold.
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