Jon Langford is a founding member of British punk band The Mekons and Chicago alt-country outfit The Waco Brothers, and a painter to boot.
Langford’s “song-paintings” fuse publicity-shot portraiture with imagery derived from folk art, Dutch still life, classic Western wear, and the cold, cold war—all instilled with sharp, sardonic wit and a Constructivist sense of the power of language. He applies his completely distinctive style to the depiction of American music giants such as Bob Wills, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash, and also to more ghostly, marginalized figures -- blindfolded cowboys, astronauts, and dancers -- jerked around by the forces of success and exploitation, fame and neglect.
It’s a style supple enough not only to express the artist’s deep regard for his musical heroes, but also for him to comment on the death-dealing tendencies in the culture of his adopted homeland, from the killing off of authentic popular music by homogenized, mass-marketed drivel to the embrace of capital punishment as a response to social ills.
Each painting involves a "long process of layering, scraping, and minute attention to detail. Basically, I create a very unstable surface with acrylics and pastel on top of each other and work on top of that with Sharpies, felt pens, white out, gunk, snot and whatever comes to hand."