Buy Ben Frost Graffiti Modern Pop Artwork
As a result, one can easily understand that in the art of Ben Frost the media plays a significant role, not only in the technical creation of his work but, most importantly, from an aspect of meaning. Additionally, in some cases, the choice of media and means is made in order to create an antithesis between the media and the artistic content. His series “Packaging Paintings”, for example, consists of paintings of cartoon characters, created on the surface of pharmaceutical boxes. Naturally, the artist achieves to generate a dynamic and irreverent contrast between a series of animation figures and drug use, or, in other words, a “collision”, between two different but unexpectedly related worlds.
Such juxtapositions and mash-up conceptions feel familiar yet disturbing to the viewer. Both the pharmaceutical package and the animations have independent meanings and a specific place in our culture. Nonetheless, it is their combination that generates a new narrative, a new way of seeing the world, so as “to try to make sense of it”, as Frost has commented.
At the same time, his take on modern pop culture is equally compelling. Mainstream media, advertisements and politics can be identified as some of his main fields of interest, which he utilizes and mixes up in a controversial formation. The word controversial is not used incidentally. What Ben Frost’s art is doing is, essentially, the appropriation and weaponization of imagery against the same system that gave birth to it. In other words, the art of Frost is creating a mirror of the society in order to bring the audience face to face with the unsound aspect of a society, that lacks depth and is being manipulated by indomitable advertisements and colossal brands. The artist is notably interested in the effect of advertisements and their place in capitalism: “I increasingly get the feeling that we are all just participants in a grand market research study, rather than individuals - with individual things to say.”
Thus, he is utilizing imagery familiar to western culture in order to make a statement about the culture itself on the basis of consumerism, modern icons, big corporations etc. Animation characters, pop icons, brand logos and many more are transformed into vibrant artworks and find their place in galleries. With this in mind, and in the case of Ben Frost, it is futile to try to identify a clear borderline between low and high art. In reality, the artist wants the audience to think on the terms of high or low value and, by extension, what these actually mean.
Materiality, societal values and meaning are some of the elements, which Frost is actively incorporating into his art, without providing any answers and, subsequently, creating an open space of reflection. The artist, in a way, wants the viewers to get into the process of trying to find themselves in his art. After all, Ben Frost is a master of manipulating our memories and selectively bringing them to the surface.
It is not random that a great portion of his art consists of appropriated imagery of animations, just like the Simpsons, Looney Tunes, Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh etc., which are placed into a new artistic context, without losing their original connotations. This visual re-branding of such imagery, that Frost is displaying in his work, is nostalgic enough in order for us to feel instantly familiar with it, but, at the same time, disturbing, so that it grabs our attention and we cannot help but focus on it.
In the end, Ben Frost is a true pop artist. Pop art and culture intrigue him, while the reformism and contemporariness of his work make him relevant to today’s aesthetics and societal issues. Nostalgia, on the other hand, is a key element, which the artist tries to infuse into this work, utilizing everyday iconography, sometimes, to pay homage or, other times, to mock the entertainment industry, capitalism and commercialism.
After all, the essence of Frost’s commentary is established on the basis of subverting the meaning and the messages, promoted by the mainstream media. In other words and, as he has stated in the past: “The less you fill your mind with the trappings of advertising and bad television, the more space you have in your brain for things of value”.