Ron English’s ‘Sugar Circus’ Immersive Art Experience

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[Ron English, known as the ‘Godfather of Street Art’, and MINDstyle continue to push the limits of art experiences with the brand-new Sugar Circus at QPlex in Shenzen, China which is set to open to the public on the evening of Friday, November 19, 2021. Spanning nearly 10,000 square feet, the groundbreaking exhibition incorporates the artist’s original paintings, large-format sculptures and art toys into a feast for the senses and a golden opportunity for eye-catching selfies. Every space, corner, shelf and cabinet offers a new discovery and beckons just one more photo. The immersive experience will continue in 2023 with multiple tour stops worldwide Inviting fans to step into Ron English’s world of art.]

Hi Ron. Please tell us about the concept behind your immersive art experience, Sugar Circus.

The concept of Sugar Circus is to present a high brow art experience as a traveling populist spectacle.

Can you introduce us to a few of the colorful characters and new paintings visitors will meet at your circus?

There is a series of large scale oil paintings I created using famous Looney Tunes characters sporting my mad happy grin treatment. I have also scaled up some of my iconic characters as bigger than life sculptures, including Mona Lisa Grin and Harmonic Scream Clownboy.

What’s your favorite room in the new immersive Sugar Circus installation, and why?

The gift shop because it allows the public to take home a piece of the spectacle.

Sugar Circus embraces the weird, unexplained and scary aspects of the circus. Did you grow up fascinated by clowns or fearful of them?

I was, like most children, both fearful and amused by clowns. The reason I make my Clownboys and Combrats children is to address the issue of the scary clown. Presenting them as children takes away the threatening aspect of the circus clown and makes the experience more enjoyable for the youth.

You’ve done several high-profile exhibitions in China over the years including the English Translation Series show (June 2019) together with MINDstyle. Your collaborations with MD Young constantly seem to create bigger experiences, almost like a rock concert or major tour. How important is it having a promoter/producer to bring your vision to life and execute on your plans?  

MD approaches the concept of an art exhibition as a grand, three-sixty experience, engaging all the senses and activating the entire space. He has made a life out of doing “what can’t be done”. I am proud that he sees and is able to realize my ever expansive vision. Like PT Barnum, MD is all about “the greatest show on earth!”  

With each show you incorporate additional elements to enhance the art experience. What was it like it to create and collaborate with MD on the immersive environments and overall mood for this show on top of creating new paintings, characters and sculptures?

MD facilitates 5-story sculptures with the aplomb of others playing with 5-inch toys. He is interested in activating every inch of the experience the same way Walt Disney approached his theme parks. He also produces music and films and that particularly explains his acumen for the all encompassing theatrical experience.

Part of the draw of your shows is the opportunity to take home collectibles based on the featured paintings and sculptures. What new art toys await collectors?

We are still trying to keep a lot of the experience a secret, but you can expect a few new twists on old classics and a brand new cast of characters.

In addition to new characters, Sugar Circus also features the next chapter in your beloved flower series with the incredible new 4-foot Ronnnie Rabbbit flower sculptures. What’s the secret formula behind the growth and popularity of the flowers with Made By Monsters?  

We water the flowers!

It’s been announced that Sugar Circus will tour Shanghai, Chengdu, Manila, Los Angeles, New York and Miami through 2023. How did such a major undertaking by a living street artist come to be?

I started by creating an entire conceptual universe of characters, soundtracks and landscapes and presenting it to MD from MINDstyle who sorted out how to bring it to scale and to the world.

Any last words for your fans and collectors?

The circus is coming to town!!!