Ben Frost: Friends in High Places @ Corey Helford Gallery, LA
On Saturday, September 17th, downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery (CHG) will proudly unveil their next solo show with Australian contemporary Pop Art painter Ben Frost, entitled Friends in High Places, in the Main Gallery.
Known for his kaleidoscopic Pop Art, mash-up paintings that take inspiration from areas as diverse as graffiti, collage, photo-realism and sign-writing, Frost’s instantly recognizable take on pop culture twists up every day iconography from the world’s biggest brands. Subverting meaning and messages from the mainstream media, the artist’s scything commentary on advertising, entertainment and politics is both confronting and controversial.
Regarding his upcoming show, Frost shares, “Friends in High Places is both a satirical critique of consumer culture and a begrudging celebration of it. Blurring the lines between the visceral and addictive experience of drug use with the seductive products of consumerism, the exhibition explores our love/hate relationship with these products and the characters who sell them to us. Using some of the most beloved characters and mascots from my childhood, the paintings reflect a darker side to their natures. Super Mario flies high through a k-hole, Fred Flintstone and Grogu pass joints, and it's revealed what kind of 'power pills' Pac-Man is really gobbling. These 'friends in high places' reflect a type of drug-fueled hyper-consumerism, endlessly selling products of any morality with their cheery dead-eye stares.
These characters also filter onto the surfaces of over-sized McDonald's fry boxes and re-creations of luxury fashion bags ─ all lovingly created and painted onto board. The contrast between fast-food and high-end fashion is one of status and attainability, but they are all icons of desire. The characters express varied emotions, but there is an underlying sense of betrayal towards the objects of their desire. Whether flavor has not been achieved or status attained, these paintings explore the impulses and perceptions we have in the consumer experience.”
Adding, “The exhibition focuses on an evolution, from small hand painted packages to larger works on board, exploring scale and format within a Pop Art context. The pieces have a 'sculptural' quality, whether using thick synthetic ropes to mimic fashion bag handles, or layers of laser-cut wood to recreate box shapes. The larger works are made in their component parts and are bolted together, such that where flaps or folds join, there is a distinct space between the parts. Using a vinyl-cut stencil technique, the works are made using acrylic paint, with the black layer as spray paint. This gives the work a very flat, high-quality finish. Friends in High Places is my first exhibition since lock-down and represents works made within the last nine months in my studio in Northcote, Melbourne, Australia.”