Pop Art

Ben Frost/ Ben Frost

Australia 1975

Pop Art

benfrostisdead.com

Ben Frost
Ben Frost
Male
Australia
1975

As a post-modern pop artist, Ben Frost uses all the tricks and techniques of the advertising industry. By using the symbols and icons of the media moguls and recalibrating them anew, he actually turns them against the propaganda industry. Frost’s pieces distort logos, icons and characters from popular culture as he re-makes them in startling and often confronting new ways; Disney characters, Hello Kitty, the Simpsons, Lego, Powerpuff girls and Pokémon. He subverts the iconography from the areas of politics, entertainment, and commercialism, creating a unique and bold visual language that confronts the viewers and often stirs up a lot of controversy along the way.

Ben Frost has an upcoming original contact list that contains policy and terms of use.
Ben Frost – Krispy Kreme (green), 2015 (Left) / Hot and Delicious, 2015 (Right) – image courtesy of Vertical Gallery

Ben Frost is Dead Was Just a Gallery Exhibition

Born in Brisbane, Australia, he faked his own death in 2000 for an exhibition suitably titled Ben Frost is Dead which made national news in Australia. Invitations were created in the form of a newspaper funeral notice and distributed nation-wide. Labeled by newspapers as perverse and sick, there was a misfortune in the form of time-related coincidence, as a local art patron died on the very same day when the invitations went out. Frost’s work was featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, FHM, and HQ. In 2003 he moved to Tokyo, where he contributed as an illustrator to magazines such as Black + White, Blue, and Men’s Style for more than 3 years. Upon his return to Sydney, he started an online store where he could sell his works and blog portal “Stupid Krap”, which continues to support and represent a number of notable Australian emerging artists including Anthony Lister, Numskull, Beastman, Kareena Zerefos, E.L.K, Mark Drew, HA-HA, Kill Pixie, and Bridge Stehli. Stupid Krap is currently located in a two-level warehouse in Annandale, which also incorporates Stupid Krap Studios – a multi-disciplinary collective consisting of ten established and emerging artists.

His search for a personal style has led to some serious controversies

Ben Frost privacy log is hidden in his electronic address
Ben Frost – Valium, 2015 (Left) / Ritalin, 2015 (Right) – image courtesy of Vertical Gallery

Package Painting

Asked to compare cartoon characters and consumerist merchandise, Frost thinks “they are the same really. If you put big eyes and a toothless grin onto something, then it seems it will sell better. I was always very frightened of Ronald McDonald as a child.”[1] He makes art from the things around him, and with commercialism and entertainment being so pervasive in today’s environment, it seemed like an obvious choice. He has extended his practice by starting the package painting (acrylic painting onto the surface of packages and boxes that he finds on his travels). According to Frost, he gathers 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. Since he began package painting by using acrylic back 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.” The ads can be extremely jarring and they aren’t always the most aesthetic thing to put into an artwork for visual consumption, so he spends a lot of time on the process and how different juxtapositions work together to make the most relevant and appealing results that he can.

He spends a lot of time on the process in order to achieve the most relevant and appealing results

Ben Frost list shows group page and print shop on street of London and Miami
Ben Frost – Smurf Reich (Left) / Mickey on Zoloft (Right) – image courtesy of Stolen Space gallery

Controversies and Responses

His painting White Children Playing caused a stir for its graphic depiction of children using drugs and a masked and disgruntled assailant slashed one of the paintings in his exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane. Police also tried to remove one of his collaborative artworks in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney because of its graphic nature. He also started the yearly paste-up festival Paste-Modernism, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Essentially, Frost thinks that “art is about creating a dialogue, pushing boundaries and constantly evolving the whole medium.” Surely, negative responses happen all the time, but there are far more positive reactions from the viewers who are able to recognize the significance of his work.

He is represented by No Walls Gallery and Vertical Gallery.

Ben Frost lives and works in Sydney.

References:

  1. Vesnik A. BEN FROST: REBEL WITH A CAUSE, WideWalls [October 6,2016]

Featured image: Ben Frost in a bunny suit – image courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Look again! Cash, Cans & CandyHilger NEXT, ViennaGroup
2015The New PollutionStolen Space gallery, LondonSolo
2015Product DisplacementCorey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CAGroup
2015Pop The StreetsSaatchi Gallery in LondonGroup
2014Saints & SinnersStolenSpace GalleryGroup
2014Pop-EyeconicCorey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CAGroup
2014KNOW YOUR PRODUCTSOZE GALLERY, LOS ANGELESSolo
2013ShadesCorey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CAGroup
2013Art Collector Starter KitCorey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CAGroup
2013New PsychedeliaUniversity of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, QLDGroup
2013Art + Architecture 11Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2013The Perfect DrugKult Gallery, SingaporeSolo
2010The Art Of NoiseBoutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWSolo
2010ShortsharpsweetGreen-Wood Gallery, Melbourne, VICGroup
2009Lost In The SupermarketBoutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWSolo
2009Art With PaperBoutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2009Free RadicalsGreen-Wood Gallery, Melbourne, VICGroup
2008TrailblazersBoutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2008CrapitalismDray Walk Gallery, The Old Truman Brewery, LondonSolo
2008Ben FrostOpus Gallery, Newcastle, UKSolo
2008TrailblazersBoutwell Draper Gallery, SydneyGroup
2008Art LondonKounter Kulture Art Fair, LondonGroup
2007Spoon Full of SugarWasteland Gallery, PerthSolo
2007At Your ConvenienceStussy Walls, San FranciscoSolo
2007Cash From ChaosOxford Art Factory, SydneySolo
2007Dawn of the DeadAutopsy Gallery, MelbourneSolo
2007Let's Play Until We Break SomethingStudio Apart, AmsterdamGroup
2007That's All Folks!Cosh Gallery, LondonGroup
2007Tiger Translate798 Space, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2007All Star Hustlaz IIWhite Walls Gallery, San Francisco, USAGroup
2007Finders KeepersMonster Children Gallery, SydneyGroup
200712 x 12Ambush Gallery, SydneyGroup
2007Indefinable CitiesAirspace Gallery, SydneyGroup
2007Stoke On Trent, UKGAS 07Global Gallery, SydneyGroup
2006Don't Try This At HomeThe Arm Gallery, New YorkSolo
2006New GodsBlank Space, SydneySolo
2006Kmart After DarkBlack Lab Gallery, BrisbaneSolo
2006All Star HustlazWhite Walls Gallery, San Francisco, USAGroup
2006Duck FeverMercadodelborne, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2006Cross SectionsRex Livingston Smith Gallery, SydneyGroup
2006Swap MeatBrightspace, MelbourneGroup
2006Sold OutWhite Walls Gallery, San Francisco, USAGroup
2006Blank GenerationBlank Space, SydneyGroup
2005Rainbows EndHelen Gory Gallery, MelbourneSolo
2005As Seen on TVBlankspace, Surry Hills, SydneySolo
2005The Art on Canvas ShowMonster Children, SydneyGroup
2005Chart Topping MachineBlank Space, Surry Hills, SydneyGroup
2005PearlDantes Gallery, Gertrude St, MelbourneGroup
2005Missing Things TomorrowSwanston St, MelbourneGroup
2005BasefieldChapel on Chapel, MelbourneGroup
2004Role ModelsForest One Gallery, AdelaideGroup
2004International UndergroundHaight Ashbury, San FranciscoGroup
2004Trash DandyEf Gallery, Asakusa, TokyoGroup
2004Use Again ExhibitionBelgiumGroup
2004ThoughtcrimezAntenna Gallery, Toronto CanadaGroup
2003Rules of Engagement, SavageDarlinghurst, SydneySolo
2003Gentlemen Take PolaroidsCroft Institute, Chinatown, MelbourneSolo
2003Stumble Then Rise on Some Awkward MorningFarmspace, George St, BrisbaneSolo
2003Ugly FauxCitylights, MelbourneGroup
2003White Lies BeneathHelen Gory Gallerie, MelbourneGroup
2003AntipodaArtillery Space, MelbourneGroup
2003Birds of a FeatherGallery Wren, SydneyGroup
2003Basefield - The Great Divide Chapel on Chapel, MelbourneGroup
2003Guerilla GorillaGeorge Gallery, MelbourneGroup
2003The Empty ShowWilliamstown, MelbourneGroup
2002WestworldGamma Space, Flinders Lane, MelbourneSolo
2002Degenerate, RevolverChapel St, Prahran New WorkSolo
2002UntitledMansour Galleries, Latrobe St, MelbourneSolo
2002When I Was Young: Impressions of Childhood in Australian ArtGlobal Arts Link, SydneyGroup
2002Ipswich PrimaveraMuseum of Contemporary Art, SydneyGroup
2002ProductSpan Galleries, MelbourneGroup
2002Money ShotAdelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide Group
2001Gene PoolModus Studios, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
2001(curated)171 (ii)Mansour Galleries, Latrobe St, MelbourneGroup
2001Get it OnModus Studios, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
2001Strictly CommercialModus Studios, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
2000Ben Frost is DeadModus Studios, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneSolo
2000ColossusInstitute of Modern Art, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
2000The Stars Shine BrightLogan City Art Gallery, LoganGroup
2000Great Australian Painters of the 21st CenturyModus Studios, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
1999The End of the WorldSatellite Art Space, Cameron House, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
1999PoisonMetro Arts Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
1999Art Director's Charity AuctionRiverside Centre Building Foyer, BrisbaneGroup
1999VIP/Backstage Exhibition1999 Livid Festival, BrisbaneGroup
1999RNA ShowgroundsBrisbaneGroup
1999WordLovett Regional Gallery, Newcastle, NSWGroup
1998Singapore From A to M and Back AgainCarbon Studios, BrisbaneGroup
1998Fake Plastic TreesSmith and Stoneley, Newstead, BrisbaneGroup
1998Chemical MarriageProcess Gallery, Brisbane Group
1997Piss ChristmasProcess Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
1997Gold/Frankincense/MyrrhSmith and St oneley, Newstead, BrisbaneGroup
1997Boy's Own Process Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
1997Conrad Jupiter's Art Prize, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold Coast New WorksGrunt Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
199713 ArtistsMontville, QueenslandGroup
1996End of Year ClearanceInstitute of Modern Art, Fortitude Valley, BrisbaneGroup
1996Solitary ConfinementBoggo Road Gaol, Dutton Park, BrisbaneGroup
1996Attention Deficit DisorderVan Gogh's Earlobe, BrisbaneGroup
1996Starving ArtistPaint Factory, BrisbaneGroup
1996West End Drawing is …. Eagle St Pier Magazine Space, BrisbaneGroup