Ben Frost is an Australian artist who transforms emblems from the world’s biggest brands, subverting their meaning to offer a scathing commentary on politics, entertainment and advertising.
Frost’s art urges us to look beyond that which we unconsciously consume, to ask what impact does consumer culture have on our lives, and what role does advertising play in manipulating our perceptions?
We’re delighted to announce that Ben Frost’s work is soon to be available at Enter Gallery. In today’s blog, we chat to Frost to learn more about his art and the inspirations behind it.
Who is Ben Frost?
Inspired by everything from graffiti and photorealism to sign writing, Frost’s work has captured imaginations around the world, leading to high-profile collaborations with the likes of Moschino and Caroline Herrera.
Over a successful career spanning the last two decades, Frost has exhibited internationally everywhere from Los Angeles and Miami, to Bangkok and Singapore, and has had his work featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and on the BBC. Speaking of his art, Frost tells us:
“I always make sure to embrace irony and humour in my work, to create a playful tension between serious subjects and the light-heartedness of pop culture iconography. This juxtaposition hopefully serves as a tool to engage viewers, drawing them into the narrative and prompting them to question the underlying messages embedded within.”
Much of Frost’s work is created using product packaging – an interesting method which sprung from deciding to create art from the materials around him, whether he was at home in Australia or travelling further afield. This process emerged while Frost was living above a Korean supermarket, and would use containers from his weekly shop as his canvas. Frost reveals:
“Advertising and packaging is a part of what has now become our 'natural' environment, and I think it's relevant to make art about this experience.”
“Conceptually, the 'found' objects like pharmaceutical boxes or fast food wrappers, already have their own story before I actually paint onto them, so what I do on them is my response to this narrative.”
Since the days of the grocery store packaging, Frost has gone on to use materials sourced from his own personal consumption, as well as from friends and family in the medical industry, online marketplaces and from fans of his art. He tells us:
“Pharmaceuticals are a very personal part of a lot of people's lives, and I get sent so many packages from all over the world - which, once painted, I think provide a sense of meaning, joy and belonging to what can be very challenging individual experiences.”
Many of Frost’s artworks that are now available at Enter Gallery hail from his Packaging Paintings series – a sought-after collection that explores consumer drug culture and the impact it has on our lives. Speaking of the inspirations behind the series, Frost explains:
“In our contemporary world, we are surrounded by an abundance of products, each meticulously packaged and marketed to entice consumers. Pharmaceuticals are as pervasive as McDonald's, Coca-Cola or Chanel. I aim to highlight the often overlooked role that packaging and advertising plays in shaping our desires, addictions and perceptions.”
The Perfect Match
The magic of Frost’s art comes in his droll pairings. For example, a painting of Garfield, who is known for being lazy and loving lasagne, takes on an entirely new meaning when it is paired with packaging from a weed testing kit. Speaking of how he comes across these pitch-perfect pairings, Frost reveals:
“It's very fluid, but one of my strong points is composition. It's a process of elimination really, and spending the right amount of time trawling the internet and obscure books and references to match things together until things just seem to fit. I think this is a good guide for art - when you can manage a body of work where everything ‘just seems to fit’ - it shouldn't be too stressful.”
The Ben Frost archive opens at 12pm on Saturday 10th June. Subscribe here to get your reminder.
View our collection of Ben Frost artworks here.