Constant van Hoeven’s new documentary offers insight into the iconic and pioneering artist behind the genesis of street art and the creator of the ‘Popaganda’ art form.
Living In Delusionville chronicles the life and times of Ron English. Combining archival footage, animation and interviews with participants who offer intimate insight into the mercurial artist. The documentary takes the viewer through English’s unique universe and the world he has created and coined Delusionville.
Ron English plays by his own rules. By creating dynamic artscapes that demand dialog and provoke action, English has pranked and pummeled his way into prominence, influencing generations of artists while laying the groundwork for the explosion of the art movement known as Street Art.
Constant Van Hoeven is a Dutch born film director based in Kingston, NY. Van Hoeven started work on the documentary in 2016 after meeting Ron English through a mutual friend. Growing up reading about culture jamming in America and The Situationist International in France, he was more than happy to collaborate on a biopic about the legendary artist and anti-consumerist thinker. What initially was supposed to take 6 months turned into a 6 year journey.
“After our initial meeting, I wanted to explore Ron’s humble Midwestern beginnings and show how he began to process the commercial imagery of pop culture into a subversive yet humorous world filled with superhero mythology and nostalgic characters,” says Van Hoeven. “The unique alchemy of English’s vision transforms what he finds, mutating the American Dream into an American Grotesque. It is an eruption of Dionysian energy and fury that updates and transforms the glittering, shining surfaces of consumer culture into a nightmarish funhouse reflection of daylight imagery.”
Paintings, street art, sculptures and toys include three-eyed rabbits, cowgirls, grinning skulls, Abraham Obama, Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts and MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in Morgan Spurlock’s movie Super Size Me.
Ron English describes his vivid, irreverent approach to Pop art aesthetics as ‘Popaganda.’ Throughout his career the artist has incorporated iconography derived from superhero comics, art history, advertising, and politics. The results are surreal reflections on high and low culture across the centuries. English first came to artmaking on the street; in the 1980s, he participated in culture jamming efforts, such as altering billboards, alongside the Billboard Liberation Front. He later earned his MFA from the University of Texas during which time he continued to develop and hone his subversive and audacious artistic point of view. English has exhibited in London, Los Angeles, and New York, among other cities. In addition to his fine art and murals, English has produced album art for musicians including The Dandy Warhols and Slash, art for the documentary Super Size Me, and a number of collector designer toys.
Living In Delusionville recently won Best Documentary Feature at the DC Independent Film Festival. The Washington City Paper wrote: “Watching English grow as an artist corresponds nicely with America’s embrace of outsider art. And English dabbles in a little of everything. Near the end of the film he says, I want to be every kind of artist there is. It’s a goal many would say he’s achieved.”