- Ronald Ventura
- The In Between Nest
- Signed and dated 2013
- Oil on canvas
The artist’s painting entitled The In Between Nest draws attention to society’s lack of commitment to one “truth” over the other. Akin with the individuals in Plato’s cave analogy, contemporary society is compelled by the shadows on the wall, not knowing or unwilling to turn around and see the sunlight outside. The menagerie that lives and breathes in Ventura’s painting is a slanted view of reality. The In Between Nest shows a fantastical world, however it is the audience’s decision to accept what they see as fact or fiction.
The In Between Nest perfectly exemplifies the visual cacophony and surreal imagery that have come to populate his oeuvre. Mickey Mouse and children, skulls and angels, all reside within the colourful worlds that are unique to Ventura’s creative vision. Hello Kitty, unicorns, clowns, Angry Bird, and women breathing fire have also made appearances in his paintings. They have usurped society’s former gods to become the new objects of idolatry. Ventura is known to play with symbolism, the artworks perhaps seen as larger metaphors of the values he wishes to communicate to a discerning public. Or it may be said that it is the lack of such values that Ventura is highlighting, with commercialism and pop culture being fetishized in a contemporary context.
The In Between Nest represents an artistic purgatory where things go to rest—hyper-realistic pictures with cartoonish drawings, Renaissance imagery and graffiti doodles. The work references the allegorical painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. That painting is a depiction of mankind falling prey to temptations, having lost their moral compass amidst the bedlam. Humans, demons and animals inhabit the work, their actions a source of fascination and terror. Ventura’s artwork is similar in content. His characters are both arresting and terrifying in presence, a wildcard of creatures let loose upon society, the audience not knowing if they are friend or foe.
Within the medieval artwork, fantasy and reality are paired in a perverse union that show humans and animals acting out against the laws of nature. The flock of birds that inhabit Ventura’s painting are reminiscent of the ones that exist in Bosch’s triptych. Both artists have incorporated natural imagery to create a striking contrast with the otherworldly creatures that have peppered the environment with their hedonistic ways. As seen in the current painting, Mickey Mouse is an outlaw, and the natural world is shown in decay. Children look out towards the audience, acting as the work’s conscious within the dystopian narrative. They provide an anchor for the viewer amidst the mayhem.
The In Between Nest may be viewed as a contemporary take of the medieval painting, with Ventura appropriating Bosch’s version of paradise lost into a modern day parable for the public. His painting reveals the cracks between reality and meta-reality, the destinations between this and that, everywhere and nowhere—all variables of human existence that may be categorized as the “in between”. Through his painting that turns reality topsy-turvy, the audience undergoes a change in perspective. They have gained entry into a brave new world, turning away from the darkness and walking into the light.