A self-confessed sugar addict, artist James Ostrer has slammed junk food culture by creating disturbing portraits of models covered in unhealthy fast food such as burgers, chips and ketchup. He made the monstrosities to show the rampant consumption of junk food and how it affects our moods.
Ostrer became fascinated with the idea of sugar as subject matter in 2009 when Kelloggs mascot, Tony the Tiger was banned from television advertising. As a committed confectionary enthusiast, Ostrer describes this work as his caveman paintings about his relationship to food. He explains, “Our ancestors would have had to be stung by a load of bees to get the taste of sweetness but all we have to do is grab something from the nearest shop.” As big business and powerful brands seduce us to consume more sticky unhealthy treats, the question begged, Wotsit all about? Ostrer set to work, planning his distorted sugar icons out of foodstuffs in every kind of convenience food, bought in bulk. Transporting the mass of products back to the studio, he organised the boxes of sweets, buns, crisps and pastries as a painter would a palette, adding dyes and artificial colouring to the cream cheese so that the messy creative process could begin. The models are positioned on a plinth and smeared with layers of lurid-coloured cream cheese and adorned with junk food. Brad Feuerhelm writes “the works become a catalogue of self-destructive behaviours, re-packaged eye candy for uncomfortable consumption.” Ostrer references the self-harming sugar worship by drawing comparison between modern man and our tribal counterparts for whome the tase of sweetness would have been a rarity. For more about his works visit www.jamesostrer.com.
All images © James Oster