Filipino Art. Ronald Ventura “Voids and Cages” at Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong. From 3 April to 11 May 2013.
Opening Reception: Wednesday 3 April 2013 / 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong is proud to organize a solo exhibition by Ronald Ventura of his recent artworks, from 3 April to 11 May 2013.
Artist Ronald Ventura (b. Manila, 1973) is one of the most famed name in contemporary Filipino art, having won the Ateneo Art Award in 2005.
His work is based on technical excellence, mostly using oil on canvas but sometimes also graphite on canvas and acrylic. He also works in sculpture with fiberglass and resin, with which he creates rather pop hybrid characters. Ventura’s hyperrealism jugles with a multitude of images: craft and folklore, Western masters, American and Japanese anime and a fascination for the emotional potency that the human body is able to deliver. It speaks loudly through narratives that communicate a muscular artistic ambition and an incorporeal Filipino identity. His vision emerges from a subculture of the urban street scene but it is delivered classically resulting in high art from very humble beginnings.
Ventura’s realistic dimension often brings together fleshy, tense characters whose poses seem to stretch out for something unseen and out of their reach. His creatures are possessed by an animal-self, a cartoon-self and even by objects, since in the artist’s personal mythology, objects are animate. The subjects are in-between worlds and negotiate their transformation through a physical struggle that makes them morph from painterly texture into drawn elements, cartoon lines and pop images. Ventura forces his creations into making abrupt journeys between the three-dimensional and the flat, as through a distorted X-ray machine, from the reality of colors to that of the black and white, grey or sepia.
As such, his Rubens like cherubs, little devils trapped in cages, reveal in their grapple their true nature or at least their multilayered selves and immortal essence. Their countenances are reminders of other dimensions and artistic mediums. Ventura draws from a contemporary culture of the moving image and horror movies where the special effects convey the layered realities contained in one’s soul. Behind a child-like face there may be a mischievous spirit that you only get to see at a glimpse or when looking from the side and its mysterious essence makes you wonder about its factual existence. The artist’s contemporary dark fantasies are anchored in the history of art by appearing through the style of the old masters, but they are contemporary, relying on TV-shows, music clips, teenage fashion and the alternative.
Inspired by Flemish painter (1568-1625) Jan Brueghel the Elder’s still lifes Blumenstrauss representing flower bouquets, Ventura developed a series that reutilises the Elder’s imagery on large skull-shaped canvases. The Flemish master was known for his fine brush, earning him the nickname of Velvet, and in this particular series the bouquets are a Mannerist rendition of an impossible reality. What seems to be a realistic virtuoso delivery of a lush bouquet of seasonal flowers is in fact an unachievable reality, at least it was at the time of the Elder. The different blooms belong to different flowering periods: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter flowers are virtually arranged together. Ventura, who shows through a contemporary copying of this work his strong mastery of hyperrealism, literally outlines the lingering shadow of death that is present within the essence of such occult floral arrangement. Here he echoes the use of artifice in the artistic process and the tendency towards, though without ever embracing it fully, a contemporary gothic culture, the same one that uses tattoos imageries of cherubs, skulls and wings. He links the museum’s dusty lacquer atmosphere and the throbbing headache of contemporary life.
Ultimately, Ventura works on surfaces using them as screens for his dramatic combinations of life and death allegories. He stages intense prayers in action creating a space where low and hi art can meet within the same nightmarish vision, such as seeing a punk rocker in a gothic church. Ventura’s work consumes periods and styles through the filter of his own vision and are heavy beat and precise renditions of his reality.
Ronald Ventura has been showing internationally since 2009, with his first solo exhibition in the United States, and since his works have been exhibited in Europe and in Asia.