Sydney artist Ben Frost is well known for his confronting and often controversial Pop Art paintings. Using a collage style of unlikely juxtapositions, his dynamic paintings are complex mash-ups of popular culture that savagely critique our media and advertising obsessed society. His now infamous 2000 exhibition and art prank ‘Ben Frost is Dead’ saw him fake his own death and was branded ‘tasteless’ when the art world and national media actually believed his demise.
" I’ve been using the logos and design elements of product packaging for many years, and it seemed a natural evolution to begin painting directly onto the packaging – to introduce subversive elements within what already exists as an object.
Double entendre and satirical word play is brought out in new readings of our favorite and well known products i.e. the breakfast cereal Special K features a drug dazed rabbit introduced to the packaging, Viagra and Cialis boxes juxtaposed with Mr. Burns, Pop Tarts featuring Britney Spears and Whitney Houston and a series of confronting paintings onto McDonalds fries boxes.
Since I began painting onto packages in 2011, the branding and product titles seem to be more obvious in their possible double meanings. Twinkies, Hamburger Helper, Vanilla Cupcakes, Dirty Rice, Cheese Nips and Hot Tamales have all suggested new and twisted re-imaginings. I source the objects from different sources, either directly off the shelves of supermarkets, friends who are in the medical industry, trash cans and from people who actually use the various medicines that are inside the boxes.”
The nightmares first started when I was about 8. It didn’t help that the house I lived in at the time was haunted, and that by this time I had already experienced several apparitions and poltergeist events, from flying cutlery to my mother’s spinning wheel turning violently while I was home alone watching Laverne & Shirley. This extended to repeat UFO phenomena throughout puberty, long before drugs and alcohol had anything to do with it. Sometimes I even questioned whether there was some sort of repressed sexual abuse, but growing up in various backwater areas of south east Queensland in a very supportive and wholesome family there was nothing other than the occasional experimentation with the boy next door or my best friend’s sister.
Any second now, any second now we’ll all wake up.