Ben Frost’s new exhibition “Know Your Product”, which opened Saturday at
Soze Gallery, might have also been titled “Know Your-self”. His new work is a deceivingly simple take on pop culture and what connects us. Through popular cartoons like Hello Kitty and Bugs Bunny painted on packaging, particularly pharmaceuticals, Frost is making an observation about our common “additions”. There’s also the possibility that Frost is poking fun at the things his viewer relates to. Prescription drugs are, after pot and alcohol, the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. So, it’s not surprising that they struck a chord with Frost.
Several years ago, Frost became increasingly interested in product packaging design and what it is about these images that resonates. His career as an urban artist took him around the world from Australia, to Canada to Los Angeles, and along the way began a collection. The name of the country is specified on most of the boxes treated as found objects, visual reminders of his travels. Just don’t ask how many McDonald’s fries he had to eat- behind the humor there is a genuine study of graphic design, such as how a specific font or color evokes emotion or attraction. If you suffer from depression, you might find comfort in the baby pink, rounded lettering on Paxil’s container. Frost intensifies the experience by overlaying a Roy Lichtenstein-esque girl crying. After that, perk up with the absurdity of old Mr. Burns on a Viagra box. Whatever the product may be, Frost isn’t just reinterpreting well known images, he’s confronting our desires.
Ben Frost’s own Mickey tattoo.