Urban Art Festival: Ron English in Buenos Aires

I thought the weather was beginning to cool down a bit, but this weekend we were back to hot and humid summer conditions here in Buenos Aires.  The heat kept me away from watching a polo match Saturday afternoon; I waited until the very last minute to see if the sun would ease off a bit and ended up missing most of the polo match.  It was nice in the evening though and I had a fun night out with Antoine and Miguel.  Yesterday I was determined not to let the weather force me indoors again during the day.  It was hot but I walked over to the Centro Cultural Recoleta to see the 5th annual Puma Urban Art Festival.  This festival promised to showcase a combination of contemporary urban art, live bands, designers, graffiti masters, and artists working in different mediums.  I wanted to listen to some local bands but was very much looking forward to the American artist Ron English’s work.

Urban Art Festival tent at Centro Cultural Recoleta

The organizers had turned most of the cultural center into a young, hip, cool hub of activity.  When I arrived there the place was hopping with the beat of a local band called Singapur and the indoor exhibition was in full swing.

I headed inside to see a series of local artists’ works; there were everything from small sketches to intricate designs on bicycles, colorful art on surfboards, skulls made out of plastic wires, sculptures, and larger than life paintings.  One of the center rooms had a DJ playing house and electronic pop, and young people grooving on it.

I found the Ron English and Jeremy Fish exhibition, and stayed for a while to take in their work.  Ron English is best known for mixing cultural images and symbols, elevating “street art” to mainstream galleries, contemporary art world, films, and even to advertising.  He names Andy Warhol as one of his major inspirations and you can really see its influence in his work.

Ron English’s paintings were part of Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super Size Me.”  Here you have English’s interpretation of the iconic Ronald McDonald with his more recent work, “Abraham Obama,” fusion of America’s 16th and the 44th presidents in the background.

Some of Ron English’s other works on display yesterday:

Aside from the mash-up of cultural images Ron English has created his version of Picasso’s Guernica, replacing the original Spanish figures with Disney, Peanuts, and other characters.  These murals and paintings (most are as large as the original Guernica if not larger) were not at the exhibition yesterday but when I was in Rome in November of 2010, my friends and I had our Thanksgiving dinner at Checcino Dal 1887 that happened to be in front of Ron English’s Guernica for Absolute Wallpaper.  This isn’t the best photo, as it was taken very late at night, but you get the idea.

Here is a photo of Ron English working in Rome on this project, courtesy of blogvecindad.com

Ron English was giving a conference at 8PM but I knew it’d be packed, so I left as the sun was beginning to set.  I find his work fascinating and I was really glad to have gone to a great exhibit all the way down here in Buenos Aires.

One last photo from yesterday, taken by the main stage outside.  This cool guy had a cigarette in his right hand, his left arm was covered with some awesome tattoos, and I liked how he unknowingly mimicked the artwork behind him.

I won’t be here next year but this urban art festival is an annual event: Puma Urban Art Festival

Check out this website Popaganda for more on Ron English.

Centro Cultural Recoleta (CCR): Junin 1930, Recoleta, Buenos Aires

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