RONALD VENTURA: An Introspective
New Art Museum Singapore
2023.10.14 - 2024.01.28
For his New Art Museum Singapore show, Filipino artist Ronald Ventura looks back and looks forward at the same time. We see the artist in medias res—in the middle of his art narrative—and shows how he continuously works on an ever-unfolding series of paintings, sculptures and installation art. If The Bard from Minnesota has his Never-ending Tour, Ventura has this never-ceasing take and retake on self-expression.
Series such as “Humanime,” “Zoomanity,” “Human Study” or “Stripe” do not achieve completion or a logical conclusion, since the artist constantly revisits his oeuvres, probes each facet, recasts them depending on his current mindset but retains their origin or raison d'être. For him, it is a constant dialogue in his head: how can a piece of art define who I am now, trace the trajectory of my journey, or even plot what is to come?
It is not a retrospective per se, he points out. It is not as if a specific era his art practice had died and the carcass of which had been installed for all to see. Not a museum of dead things, but rooms of artworks captured in their evolution into something else. And that something else not even the artist knows. Only tomorrow dictates its breathtaking beauty or its tempestuous terror.
The ideas are constantly developing, everything is in progress, nothing is dead or static—explains the artist.
The strategy for mounting this show in New Art Museum germinated from Ventura’s predilection for putting specific ideas for artworks in separate folders. He has a multitude of those, just waiting to be opened, reopened, filed, refiled and realized. Sometimes for a specific exhibition, the artist would pick a few things from each folder and refashion them into a new, totally different grouping. He says just think of these folders as rooms in the consciousness of an artist who is always evaluating himself and his art. The possibilities, the pairings are infinite, enticing to pore over.
In these spaces, viewers can get a sense of focus, a semblance of a story. Of course, there will be as many stories as there are viewers. That always is the case with artists who are continuously honing their craft, revisiting their opuses, recreating themselves, perennially restless.
In his “Comic Lives” series, Ventura purposely employs Japanese pop cultural references (Naruto, Pokemon, etc.) alongside their counterparts in America, so as to underscore the overlapping of cultures prevalent in today’s world. He also peppers emojis in one of the paintings to draw attention as to how these things have intruded into the way we communicate. A testament to the power of images and the mutability of language, perhaps? Or the reduction of everything into ubiquitous ciphers—hieroglyphics for millennials.
Japanese pop figures transition into something else as melting Pop Art bear collectibles in candy colors ascend into artfulness (in the “Humanime” series), and art itself becomes fun yet profound at the same time.
Ventura’s “Tycoon” series in museum etching fine art paper takes the iconic image of Richie Rich and transports it into another plane—either monochromatic or abstracted into oblivion. This is a continuation of the artist’s strategy of taking familiar characters and situating them in somewhere strange and downright odd, thus giving them a whole new circumstance altogether.
The sculptures can be massive (“Bull With Wings”) or convey the illusion of lightness and in a state of constantly floating (“Rain”). Ventura's sculptures tend to swing from the mythic to the cartoon-like. His series of dog heads are almost totemic: guardians in eternal vigilance, surveillance; keepers of the peace.
Ventura confesses to never feeling a particular series has been completed. He always finds the moment to reconnect to the younger creator within him responsible for those earlier works.
These series, the studies, are chaptered endlessly.
He wants his works to grow organically, for them to expand without boundaries. Contentment for him is elusive. He compares it to watching an animated man running: you see the man running, but you are less concerned with knowing where he is headed than in observing that he is perpetually in motion.
Another thing the artist points out is that when he sees an artwork of his from, say, six or seven years ago, it is a “different” artist perceiving the painting: an individual who paints differently, uses color differently, sees the world differently, leads a different lifestyle altogether. But there is still an underlying DNA still there. He says it is a case of “dealing with your own self.”
New experiences inform an artist, turn him or her into something newer. A constant cocooning of sorts, a metamorphosing, phases in what is now.
The spaces in this show will usher viewers into the artist’s ever-changing states of mind, a tour of the temporal, a vision that is always being re-envisioned.
— IGAN D’BAYAN
New Art Museum Singapore
39 Keppel Road, #05-03/06 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065
Tel: +65 6223 3090
Fax: +65 6223 3657
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 19:00
Closed: Monday, Public Holiday
Child below 7: Free
Primary / Secondary: $5
Adults > 5: $5
Primary / Secondary > 5: $3