Whitestone Ginza New Gallery is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of prominent Filipino artist Ronald Ventura titled “Comic Lives”. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Japan.
Born in 1973 in Manila, the Philippines, where he continues to live and work, Ronald Ventura ranks as one of the most acclaimed artists of his generation in Southeast Asia. Ventura’s paintings and sculptures are now among the most recognizable images of contemporary art in Southeast Asia with their unique combinations of figurative motifs. His work features a complex layering of images and styles, ranging from hyperrealism to cartoons and graffiti. Ventura takes the layering process in his work as a metaphor for the multifaceted national identity of the Philippines. Over the centuries, the profound influences of various occupying powers — Spain, Japan, and the United States — along with the underlying indigenous culture, have produced a complex and at times uneasy sense of identity. Ventura explores this historical and psychic phenomenon through a dialogue of images evoking East and West, high and low, old and young — seen, for example, in allusions to Old Master paintings or Japanese and American cartoons. He draws our attention to the “second skin” of cultural signifiers that each person carries with him, however unwittingly. Ventura views skin as an expressive surface — written on with tattoos, concealed under layers of imagery, or exploding outwards to reveal an inner world of fantasy and conflict.
In this exhibition, Ventura raises the question: “Do people lead more comical lives nowadays?” Or, “Are comic books being en-fleshed in the lives of everyone?” It is how the artist interprets contemporary existence: fast, instant and disconcerting, animated. The artist purposely employs Japanese pop cultural references (Naruto, Pokemon, etc.) alongside their counterpart in America, so as to underscore the overlapping of cultures prevalent in today’s world. He also peppers ‘emoji’ 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, the mutability of language and the layering of realities.