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Eric Yahnker's Sticks & Drones at Paradise Row, London

From President Obama to Miley Cyrus, the artist's new show spans the good, bad and the ugly of America's global influence

by Jonah Samson
on 23 May 2014
EricYahnker-London-04b.jpg EricYahnker-London-04a.jpg

LA-based artist Eric Yahnker (one of CH's favorites) takes his sharp and satirical view of American culture and politics across the pond for his first solo show in the UK called "Sticks & Drones"—on now at London's Paradise Row gallery. Known for his provocative, large-scale charcoal and colored pencil drawings that fuse contrasting images (think President Obama spying on Miley Cyrus from the Oval Office window), Yahnker has developed a comedic language that is all his own, but seems to translate internationally. “England is still a cheeky, English-speaking country,” says Yahnker, “And, as far as I could tell, most were plenty keen to discuss American politics—especially if they saw it as an opportunity to roast.”

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But while "Sticks & Drones" not only openly pokes fun at iconic elements of American culture, it also comments on the frequently strained reception of US politics abroad, as with the portrait of a pouty-faced President Putin called "Crimea River." This show is a global mash-up of America’s influence worldwide; where cultures collide with twisted and hilarious results—and Michael Jordan slam-dunks a basketball into Gustave Courbet’s famous painting of a vagina called "The Origin of the World."

There is a shallow end and a deep end to the comprehension of the works, and I’m just as happy to splash around in the piss-soaked kiddie pool as tread where my feet can’t touch the bottom.

While the humor is consistent, Yahnker isn't just creating bold, colorful art to laugh at—there is a healthy side of satire, plenty of underlying messages and ideas that provoke thought and challenge existing beliefs. “There’s no doubt this show—as with all my others—is about complex global sociopolitical issues,” says Yahnker. “But I always remind folks there is a shallow end and a deep end to the comprehension of the works, and I’m just as happy to splash around in the piss-soaked kiddie pool as tread where my feet can’t touch the bottom.”

"Sticks & Drones" is currently on show at London's Paradise Row (74a Newman St) and will run through 28 June 2014.

Installation images courtesy of Eric Yahnker, Sticks & Drones, 2014, Paradise Row, photography by Juno Calypso; individual art images courtesy of Eric Yahnker

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