Australian artist Ben Frost seems to trade on controversy – his 12-metre painting ‘Where Do You Want To Go Today?’ was deemed so inappropriate that the Sydney police ordered it to be removed. His newest exhibition, ‘The Perfect Drug’ – which consists of 45 paintings done on various fast food and other boxes – is up at Kult Gallery this month; Gwen Pew picks his brains for nine things you’d want to know about him.
First published on 8 Mar 2013. Updated on 8 Mar 2013.
He first got into art by copying illustrations: ‘I spent a lot of time re-drawing superheroes from comic books… I’ve switched mostly to porn images now, but this process of “copying” or “appropriation” is still a big part of my work.’
To Frost, balance is everything in art: ‘It’s about juxtaposing found images and objects to illustrate ideas in new and confronting ways.’
His most controversial work to date is probably his 2010 project ‘Ben Frost is Dead’, in which he faked his own death: ‘A lot of people thought I was actually dead – even my mum cried – but I think it’s healthy to kill yourself off every so often.’
His new show is about consumer culture: ‘I’m living in Canada at the moment and travel through the US a lot, so I’m immersed in an environment of billboards and fast food consumers… I enjoy exploring the trappings of consumer culture – as much as I’m repulsed by it.’
He collected empty boxes and packaging from convenience stores for ‘The Perfect Drug’: ‘I get strange looks in the supermarket when they see me inspecting Corn Flakes boxes for folds and tears.’
One of his favourite works from the current show is ‘Breakfast Undead’: ‘[It] shows Dracula howling at the Kellogg’s logo with one of his female victims in his arms. It’s kind of how I feel most mornings...’
His creative process is organic: ‘More often than not, the most resonant compilations arrive by accident, so it’s very much a process of being aware and drawing out the meanings as they appear.’
He’s a dog lover: ‘When I was a child, I was obsessed with French poodles, so much so that I convinced my second grade teacher that I owned one. But I didn’t.’
If he weren’t an artist… ‘I’d no doubt be in jail.’
Ben Frost: The Perfect Drug is at Kult Gallery until 18 Mar.