Lot 251
  • 251

Ronald Ventura

140,000 - 220,000 HKD
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  • Ronald Ventura
  • Catharsis
  • signed and dated 2008
  • Oil on canvas paper
  • 65 by 50 cm.; 25 1/2 by 19 1/2 in.


Singapore, NUS Museum, Mapping The Corporeal: Ronald Ventura, Singapore, September 5 - November 16 2008


Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Mapping The Corporeal: Ronald Ventura, Artesan Gallery + Studio, Singapore, 2008, p.11, colourplate  


The work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas paper, which is clear and taut. There are indications of minor wear and handling on the edges of the canvas. Upon ultraviolet light inspection, there was no restoration found. Please note image illustrated in the catalogue is slightly cropped. Framed, under Plexiglas.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Ronald Ventura has displayed an intuitive understanding of the physical body throughout his career. The artist’s oeuvre is a pictorial analysis of the body, either used symbolically to discuss identity, or to address existential issues that he believes are the consequences of modern society. Widely recognized for his passionate, and visually exciting paintings that appropriate images, adapting them into new contexts, Ventura may arguably be the most dynamic Filipino artist in the contemporary art world today.

The present painting Catharsis perfectly exemplifies the artist’s fascination with the body, addressing the physical form as a metaphor for human limitations. Moving beyond biological definitions, the man-beast that occupies the narrative is an anomaly of nature, a deliberate choice by the artist to dissect the viewer’s understanding of corporeal realities. Contained in the work are clues to identify the individual that acts as the antagonist in the artistic narrative. Diablo is the Spanish word for the physical incarnation of the Devil. Therefore the being that inhabits the story may personify the artist’s criticism on modernity.

Depicted in profile with his arm outstretched, roughly outlined in bright pink, Diablo exists in the painting to provoke, and subsequently challenge the viewer’s relationship with the physical. As the key player in the painting, he desires to seduce the public, for it is his presence that inspires the artistic narrative, drawing in the viewer to inquire what is happening within the scene.

Alongside Diablo is a fountain that is spurting out what may be objects equivalent with sins, a reference to the artist’s Christian upbringing. However it should be noted that within the present framework, these religious associations have been re-contextualized into a modern paradigm. Ventura is adapting his religious views onto a contemporary setting, creating a dialogue on the materialism that may be corrupting society. Therein Diablo perhaps is both the instigator, and commentator within the story, as he is associated with temptation and physical desires. However, as the artist critiques, it is the individual that voluntarily subjugates themselves to such weaknesses.

Contrary with the artist’s other works, Catharsis is deceptively simple in appearance. Bold brushstrokes and bright colours attract the eye, with the story narrated in a linear manner. Ventura has not appropriated images per se into the scene, as was the artist’s want in previous paintings. However the energetic brushstrokes, and biblical references, transcends the painting from sheer pictures into a visual parable of human follies.

The title of the work further signifies the emotional release that is experienced when the individual undergoes a personal epiphany, or spiritual realization. In the presence of good and evil, this realization is necessary to incite progress. The present painting serves to educate the viewer on their material desires, and by subjecting them to the presence of Diablo, they are able to analyse their own ego within the given paradigm.

An astute observer of modern society, Ventura’s oeuvre strives to critique the issues he believes are slowing down personal development. By incorporating religious icons and physical innuendos into Catharsis, the artist succeeds in demonstrating the public’s misguided endeavours in their want to obtain personal enlightenment.