The Enigmatic Artistry of Ronald Ventura|Solo Exhibition at New Art Museum Singapore


“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

The multi-layered artistic tour of Ronald Ventura takes center stage at the grand opening of the New Art Museum Singapore. Teaming up with the Whitestone Gallery, these two entities are set to mark a new landmark in the vibrant Singaporean art scene. In this special event, renowned artist Ronald Ventura, a luminary in the Philippine art scene, elevates his creativity and talent to new heights. Through an interview, we delve into the landmark solo exhibition "An Introspective" and explore the artist's artistic philosophy.

Who is Ronald Ventura?

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

Born in 1973 in Manila, the Philippines, Ronald Ventura is already not a stranger to Singapore. His last exhibition in Singapore was over a decade ago in 2012, during his residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI). Back then, appreciation and exposure to contemporary art from the Philippines were admittedly limited to the domestic realm. However, in the years that followed, recognition of the country’s best artists has expanded globally.

He has also been featured in Vogue and recognised as the best artist of his generation in Southeast Asia. Notably, one of his artworks was sold for HK$19M at a Christie’s auction in 2021.

Ronald Ventura at New Art Museum Singapore

This time around, Ventura’s solo exhibition, titled An Introspective, showcases a mix of paintings and sculptures. The exhibition has traveled from Karuizawa to Singapore, previously being held at the Karuizawa New Art Museum. While he is most recognizable for his use of monochromatic colors, Ventura’s impeccable drawing skills and his ability to transform new materials into beautiful works of art may surprise you. Head of NUS museum Ahmad Mashadi, previously described Ventura’s paintings as “theatrical tableaux that entice, surprise and disrupt”1 upon the exhibition at the museum in 2008.

Cultural Fusion in the ‘Comic Lives’ series

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

As you enter the museum space, you will be greeted by a large oil on canvas artwork that spans an entire wall, featuring a mix of icons drawn from the pop cultures of both the East and the West. One side of the canvas features an enlarged drawing of an anime girl, representing influences from the East; while the opposite side includes references from the West, such as a boy inspired by an American comic book character, depicted at the bottom of the painting. You’ll be amazed at how pop culture takes center stage in some of his paintings, with recognizable icons like Mickey Mouse and Superman making appearances. Interestingly, Ventura only incorporates influences from Spain, Japan and America in his artworks.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

- You use Japanese pop cultural references alongside American ones to emphasize the overlapping of cultures such as in your ‘Comic Lives’ series. Can you elaborate on the significance of cultural blending in your work?

Ventura: We as Filipinos are the fusion of our native culture (as well as mindset and heritage) and the occupying cultures of Spain, America and Japan. This amalgamation shows up in my work. We are the sum of all our experiences. There is not one thing that defines us. There is a certain unease or tension in all this blending, but it makes for interesting, compelling visual layers. One writer characterized it as a “visual sandwich.”

Artistic Evolution and Sculptural Vision

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

From the very beginning of his artistic journey, Ventura’s artworks have consistently reflected the realities of humanity. Ventura describes his art as a way “to layer different realities.”2 He envisions a fantastical world that may appear surreal but serves as a subtle reminder of the challenges humanity faces, ranging from commercialism to pollution and war. One constant element in his works is the ever-present human presence.

Ventura blurs the boundary between human and animal, a theme most pronounced in his sculptures where human animality is depicted, creating a sense of otherworldliness. This is particularly evident in his Zoomanities series, where the fusion of humans with animal parts becomes strikingly apparent. His smaller sculptures possess a dual quality, resembling both toys and human figures. It’s either the head or the feet of the sculpture that suggests a human form. The heads become modular, replaceable, entirely invented, stripped of the inalienability of personhood. The juxtaposition of human and animal anatomies results in a struggle for agency within the body.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

- As the world progresses, us as part of it evolve and change, and so does the work we create. With this constant evolution, how has your art changed over the years?

Ventura: A lot, I should say. There was a point during the pandemic and the lockdowns — where we couldn’t go anywhere — that I became obsessed with motion, how sculptures can be mobile and not just confined to a specific area. Art itself becomes a lifestyle, a lived in style. And with so much traveling and the widespread appeal of the Internet, the changes have become instantaneous. There is so much imagery out there. You soak them in, get inspired by them, be altered with all these cultures you get to experience.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

- How do you decide the scale and form of your sculptures, and what do you hope viewers take away from them?

Ventura: The subject matter dictates the scale of the sculptures. It depends entirely on the viewers — with their specific circumstance and body of biases — how they will react to my sculptures or my paintings. My works are merely suggestions.

Ventura’s Vision and Aspirations for His Exhibition

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

In the world of art, few names shine as brightly as Ventura’s. In his latest exhibition in Singapore, An Introspective invites us to explore the ways in which Ventura has defied convention. His art is a living testament to reinvention and an unchartered avenue of expression. Reviewing Ventura’s work over time prompts us to contemplate notions about the human/self and society and how they have been portrayed in art. Some of his works have portrayed the seriousness of death in a comical way, diminishing the impact of the impending tragedy. Materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, and metal are all utilized in Ventura’s work. Talk about uniqueness? Ventura checks all the boxes.

- What is the meaning and reason behind your concept title ‘An Introspective?’

Ventura: I chose the word “introspective” rather than “retrospective” because the works exhibited are in a state of constant evolution. I never get the feeling that a particular series has been complete or has run its course. Just as I am wrapping up work for a particular exhibition, my restlessness makes me wander off into new forms, fresh approaches, and untested methods of expression. Overlaps occur. The process is continuous. There are always changes, further explorations and much introspection on the horizon.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

- What impact do you hope to achieve with your works in ‘An Introspective’ exhibition for Singapore and its people?

Ventura: I am offering them a glimpse of my ever-changing states of mind. My goal is always to nurture a vision that is always being re-envisioned. That is the exciting part about being an artist: to go beyond borders and demarcations.

A Journey of Boundaries, Introspection, and Transformation

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

In our conversation with Ventura, we’ve journeyed through the vibrant and ever-evolving landscape of his artistic mind. Ventura’s ability to seamlessly blend influences from various cultures and navigate the complexities of the human condition is nothing short of remarkable.

As we learn more about his thoughts and inspirations, we’ve witnessed an artist unafraid to challenge boundaries and reimagine the world through his art. Ventura’s work speaks to the heart of introspection and showcases the power of artistic expression to spark discussions and evoke emotions.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

Through An Introspective, he has offered Singapore and its people something to think about: identity, society, and the human experience. Ventura’s art challenges us to see the world differently, to question the status quo, and to embrace the beauty of continuous transformation.

Join us in this exciting adventure at the New Art Museum Singapore, where An Introspective will be on display until 28 January 2024.

“Ronald Ventura: An Introspective” New Art Museum Singapore

View Exhibition Details »

1Ahmad Mashadi, “Mapping the Corporeal” Ronald Ventura solo exhibition, published September 5 2008.
2Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, "A Filipino Artist's Fantastical Vision, Finely Crafted", International New York Times, Arts Section, published November 4 2011.

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