Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ben Frost - Crapitalism

No Walls Gallery
Old Truman Brewery
Ever had the feeling when you walk into a show that you know you should sneer, that you ought to dislike the art, you know its derivative and lacking in actual art but heck, it still looks damn good?

Ben Frost last week (sorry – been too many other things to do) revealed a wild collection of lurid colours, sleazy but alluring imagery and anti capitalist cynicism. Of course, that was the easy bit; you serve up naked women (on canvas, not real, that would be pole dancing you see) to a predominantly male audience and lubricate with copious beer and heck, how could you possibly faile?

Art Sucks Fool

Frost is borrowing the tools of street art and creating his own caustic form of urban art. The urban collage effect composition is there, the conventional targets are present and correct and of course there are the obligatory dribbles, so we can register this as urban art.


For most of the un-editioned pieces Frost uses a technique which might be described as cluttered pop art collage. There is a clue in the title which accurately reflects the subject matter. Corporate branding and advertising comes into the cross-hairs served with a tangential snipe at rah rah rah Americana.

See Inside Box For Details

Capitalism depends on consumerism, or has it created consumerism? It has certainly spawned a culture in which we must be told what to consume and ad execs have two ways to our wallets, bribing us with the ideal of the happy nuclear family and using women as sex objects.

Sorry When You Said Hold The Irony I Thought You Said Fold The Ironing Board

It seems that, not unreasonably, Frost is anti female exploitation as a device to sell us solutions to problems we never knew we had.

Girls On Coke

Frost however has a slightly ambiguous approach to the role of sexualised women to communicate a message, witness the logo being fellated in this picture which begs to be read as a dig at Big Oil’s arrogant presumption that we must all suck its dick.

Some Call It Noise

It is hard to tell if the objectification of women for self gratifying purposes is something Frost feels is positive or negative about but there some images whose link to porn is a lot more obvious than its anti sex for selling message. This write up is doomed to disappoint anyone who is hoping to see the large canvas of the anal and vaginal self fisting, anyone so inclined will probably know to look elsewhere for that kind of imagery.

Super Sugar Crisp

Another Frost motif is the cut away skull, giving us a direct insight to the brain being manipulated by and polluted through the crass commercial bombardment propagated by advertising and the media.

Apocalypse The Musical

Tigers crop up in several pieces, possibly symbolising the rapacious fat cats and shareholders using the media to manipulate the buying habits of a suggestable populace. Then again, it might not.

Lions At The Door

Stand up against corporate shit is a simple but courageous act most tellingly portrayed by the young man flipping the finger to Mr Suit. Being unable to shake the thought that the man looks like Sweet Toof on a bad hair day makes it hard to take the suit seriously (try not to be swayed by that thought. If it takes hold, you’ll never be able to give this picture the credit it deserves).

Thanks White /Thanks Blue

Frost gives one more nod to the street art movement though this time thankfully there is little reason to be reminded of any British street artists you might see around from time to time. (If there is, do tell)

Naughty Street Artist

Frost could surely find a friend in Jamie Oliver whose campaign to improve the shit we feed our children is well known, thanks to the worms wriggling out of the eyes of a boy gobbling up what looks like tinned spaghetti, well known for its obscene subliminal sugar content, didn’t your mum warn you if you ate too much sugary stuff you’d get worms?

Free While They Last

The ultimate destruction of American capitalism thanks to its habit over the last decade of exporting its blue collar jobs across the Pacific to China is symbolised by Chairman Mao’s Anatomy Of A Burger, obviously there is no more potent symbol of America than the instantly satisfying but short lived appeasement of the American burger, Frost choses to chide America for the suicidal convenience by showing China represented by a panda giving a serious rogering to an all American silicon inflated blue eyed blonde cartoon girl, to her evident ecstatic and oblivious delight.

Chairman Mao’s Anatomy Of A Burger

Small editioned items look really nice on wood with quite substantial elements of hand variation. If only the images were a bit more wife-and-child friendly they’d certainly be a reasonable addition to any budget art collection, such as Naughty Street Artist shown above available as a smaller piece in a varied edition of 25 or this:

All Your Friends Are Dead

In a novel and cool gesture, anyone buying one of the editioned pieces had the piece signed and dedicated to them there and then on the spot. Surely Banksy, Walker, D*Face et al could pop around everyone’s house when the PoW tube pops through the door?

This body of work, by “controversial” (gallery’s words) artist Ben Frost prises the scales off the consumer’s eyes to reveal the rotten and degrading tricks used by big corporation to persuade average Joe to part with hard earned cash in pursuit of a fabricate dcommoditised Nirvana. Frost picks at the seedy side beneath child friendly benign capitalism through possibly the wildest excess of colour and noise since those arch exploiters of the corporate music industry Zigue Zigue Sputnik.
Vampire USA (try not to be reminded of Pam Glew)
As per, quite a few more photos of the show here


Anonymous said...

dface and frost - serving up the same obvious tired crap. he should have just called the exhibition crap and left it at that. boring concepts kids. ooh i'm referencing pop art, ooh i'm referencing capitalism but i hope my paintings sell!! don't worry i'm just trying to put the same things everybody else does, says, thinks and has done to bed!

Anonymous said...

As I was looking at the images, all I could think is "tired, boring, overdone and cynical". You mean you are providing a mocking and pessimistic view of capitalism, modern media and sex? You know, if it weren't for you Ben, I might have been lost despite the 75 years of art history you are referencing.