Ron English Talks Chris Brown and the Underbelly Project

11.03.10 Marina Galperina

Yesterday, ANIMAL exclusively confirmed that popagandist Ron English and his wife Tarssa Yazdani had a dine ‘n’ chat with Chris Brown about art and a possible collab. This morning, we got the deets on the deal as well as a few things on Ron English’s involvement with the epic Underbelly Project. Check ‘em below.

Above is Ron English’s snapshot of his piece for the Underbelly Project that Tarssa Yazdani sent us. Both knew little and maintained sworn secrecy over the many months the project was happening. They didn’t know who the other artists were or how many of them were involved. They were told not to tell a soul. Workhorse is “paranoid, but reasonably so,” especially since MTA is seeking to persecute the curator, albeit it’s unlikely they’ll be tracking down the 100+ participants.

English was hesitant to spill, so he just leaked a little:

It’s ludicrous that [Workhorse] is telling us not to talk about it, since it’s in the Times. The night I went down there with FAILE, we couldn’t see anything or talk to each other. We were trapped there all night, trying not to get noticed. Yeah, the track people were there, walking around and bitching about their pensions. They didn’t notice any of the art because they were too busy doing their thing. They didn’t see us until we exited. We just calmly walked past them. They were in shock, like “Where the hell did they come from?” which is different than a guy chasing you with a baseball bat for tagging up his billboard. Only when we got to the street did they start to chase us, so we split… I’ve been doing this crap forever. I’ve been in jail 30 times, but I did 200 hits for each arrest. Though you never know.

And Chris Brown? Considering the exposure the Kanye West/George Condo collaboration is getting, Ron English is glad to infiltrate the pop-meets-art scene himself. English is in talks with Garageworks about turning his cover of Slash’s album into a toy, but he wanted to work with a younger artist too. He says,

Two days later, they want me to meet Chris Brown. They’re saying “He has your art. He’s been to your show. He really wants to meet you.” I said, sure! So we met him. We had dinner. But I’m not sure what he wants to do. I’m not sure what he wanted.

Tarssa Yazdani added that since most people can’t name three artists, let alone a living one, it’s wonderful that musical artists are discovering art. Brown seems “gracious, young and adventurous. The possibilities are endless.” It might be an album cover or a video. English was thinking, maybe even be a toy, since Brown showed up wearing a giant diamond cartoon character medallion. His fifteen-year-old daughter explained the necklace. She came along.

He had a lot more in common with my daughter than us. They talked about high school. He’s a young guy. He’s a kid. All night he had old and prominent people rushing up to him and gushing. That must be major social distortion for him. You can really lose your bearings.

Garlanded in tattoos, Brown showed off his Ron English forearm tat.

Thankfully, it was very well done. Some people get my tattoos and they are god awful and embarrassing and I feel awful. Maybe I’ll starting flowing splashes up on the site, so people can take that to their tattoo artists instead of a ripped out page. Have you heard the Robert Williams story? Some guy had both his arms and chest done up with his art and finally met him. He rolled up the sleeve, than the other sleeve, then showed him his chest. Robert is a grumpy old man. He looked and then said… “You’re a fucking idiot!” No, but it’s weird to be an artist and someone buys your stuff but doesn’t put it on the wall, just keeps it around to appreciate in value. Maybe they don’t even like the art. If someone has your tattoo, you’re pretty sure he likes it.

When asked about the Rhianna beat down, Ron English was only vaguely aware of the situation, though Yazdani said, “Yeah, it’s terrible thing that he did. Obviously, don’t hit your girlfriend.” Both repeated, “He’s a kid.” And hence, they’re cutting him some slack. What falls off is yet a mystery.

Ron English is currently working on a mural at Wynwood Walls in Miami.