- Ronald Ventura
- Signed and dated 2013
- Oil on canvas
Ronald Ventura is celebrated as one of the most exciting artists in the international art scene. The present work titled Gateway demonstrates the artist’s mastery and understanding of the visual language upon a two-dimensional plane. Ventura’s oeuvre stimulates the imagination, for the artworks boldly navigate the public’s perception of reality, breaking down preconceived norms, and transforming them into mind-altering experiences. The paintings act as a vehicle to faraway places untouched by the human consciousness. Thus Gateway becomes one more avenue in which the audience may channel their hidden desires, fears, and fantasies.
It may be said that Ventura is a product of contemporary society, an enfant terrible finding beauty in destruction, and pleasure in conflict. The artist’s body of works is a marriage of opposing genres, mediums, styles and ideologies. However these differing viewpoints soon find a common ground in his oeuvre, for the audience strive to find fresh meaning in the new modes of expression that color the works. Many of the paintings incorporate animal imagery into the landscapes, for the artist “[plays with] the interchangeability of human and animal, rejecting speciesist privileging. Horses are a frequent motif throughout his oeuvre, and represent …unconscious drives and impulses”2. Thus the present piece is a culmination of these frequent motifs and paradigms.
Within the painting an enormous lion holds captive in its mouth a finely crafted toy carousel, complete with brightly caparisoned horses moving in circular rhythm to a distant melody. The fearsome beast and the carousel are reminsicent of weekend strolls in the park where families visited the zoo and enjoyed the afternoons together. In the painting though, the carousel is desolate, and appears as a relic of a bygone era, a gilded antique trapped within the jaws of what may be the ever-approaching present.
The very appearance, teeth and mane of the lion, is terrifying in itself as the artist shows the very thickness of his fur-covered skin, densely white with black spots from which sprout thick wires of hair, and the animal’s mouth open to reveal its sharp fangs. Ventura’s representation of the King of Beasts is indeed a feral creature who dominates the canvas with its silent roar. The carousel however is an image of childhood games, an object of pleasure that was created from art and beauty. The contrast between the lion and the carousel propels the narrative of the painting, and draws attention to the artist’s intent to do away with the audience’s belief system.
The imagery within Gateway is a vivid commentary on violence, instinct, maturity and innocence. The artist may be implying that a larger threat exists, for the world is filled with predators, and children are the first to fall prey to such dangers. The work is a metaphorical analysis of human connections, embracing animal symbolism to address morality and the learned values that define contemporary society. Ventura’s use of choice imagery reveals deep insights that inspire the audience to seek out the questions, and consequently discover their own truths in the artwork. It is both a frightening and magical sight.
1 Primo Giovanni Marrilla, Realities: Ronald Ventura, Damiani, Bologna, Italy, 2011, pg. 71.
2 Refer to 1, pg. 78.