Australian artist Ben Frost is known for his kaleidoscopic Pop Art, mash-up paintings that take inspiration from areas as diverse as graffiti, collage, photo-realism and sign-writing. By subverting mainstream iconography from the worlds of advertising, entertainment and politics, he creates a visual framework that is bold, confronting and often controversial.
In ‘The New Pollution’ Frost makes us question how the elements of popular culture and advertising influence our everyday lives. Our urban environment is 'polluted' with the banal detritus of our hyper-consumption in the form of logos, billboards, colourful packaging and animated characters that aggressively compete to sell us endless sales pitches, disposable solutions and discount lifestyles. In his work Frost creates a reactionary dialogue against this pervasive and dictatorial experience, by appropriating and re-contextualising the very icons that advertising feeds to us.
The title of this exhibition 'The New Pollution' reflects the unwanted advertising that infiltrates our visual and conceptual environment. It also describes the artist’s exploration of painting onto found objects and urban refuse - such as pharmaceutical packaging, candy and cereal boxes as well as fashion bags, board games, vintage stamps and ammunition packages.
Packaging is the quintessential and final form of advertising before consuming the product it envelopes. By painting directly onto the flattened surface of a used package, Frost not only engenders a statement of environmental recycling, but also makes a self-referential statement about what was once inside it. Crying women on Valium and Oxycontin packages reflect our quick-fix obsession with mental health, graphic sexual acts on McDonald's fry boxes express our distaste for their product and insane clowns on Chanel fashion bags metaphors for the lengths we go to look beautiful.
“The literal definition of 'pollution' is to: 'introduce a contaminant into a natural environment to cause adverse change'. I see this as an overall metaphor for thejuxtapositions that I use in my work, where I take pre-existing icons and logos and introduce opposing elements to create new dialogues.” - Ben Frost.