- Ronald Ventura
- Meeting Myths
- signed and dated 2015
- oil on canvas
- 183 by 275 cm; 72 by 108 1/4 in.
Ronald Ventura is highly regarded as embodying the role of the enfant terrible in the Southeast Asian contemporary art scene. His paintings champion the art of appropriation, bringing together contrasting pictorial elements into fresh contexts. The outcome of this alchemical process is the creation of parallel worlds that come to life through the artist’s vivid imagination. Walt Disney characters run rampant with mythological creatures, while wild beasts and children leave their environments for fantastical dystopian landscapes. Ventura’s oeuvre ultimately contains a myriad of possibilities to incite a dialogue within the arresting din that make up the paintings.
The present painting Meeting Myths demonstrates the artist’s creative maturation as a painter, as well as evolution of favoured aesthetics and appropriated imagery. Here, his cartoons have been replaced by zoological animals. However, children remain in the works to act as the artist’s conscience. The past few years have also seen Ventura experimenting with graphic motifs to build up dimension in the compositions. Partly a ruse that guides the audience through the labyrinth of the compositions, the linear patterns also demonstrate the artist’s skill as a painter. Each precise line is done freehand and is the last detail of the work to be painted. The current piece follows in this vein.
Much of Ventura’s body of works revolves around the relationship between creatures, real or imagined, massive or small. These beings populate the artworks, let loose from the artist’s psyche to touch upon the present world, captivating the audience’s interest with their menagerie of characters and eccentricities. In the present piece, the artist has expanded on the concept of togetherness by employing a variety of images to come together in the painting. The title Meeting Myths plays with semiotics, concept of community, and fact versus fiction. The images that Ventura chooses to appropriate largely reference his own personal history. Along with the well-known shapes that come from commercial media and literature, he has brought in images that are sole creations of his imagination.
Fuelling the narrative are two horses and a lion, who are also accompanied by a chorus of other creatures that make up this host of dynamic beings. However amidst the chaos there lies a strange beauty that penetrates the scene unfolding. Therein lays Ventura’s ability to combine duelling worlds, the imagined and the real, and unify them into a visual story that attracts and repels the viewer. The artist is a natural storyteller at heart, and as found within the landscapes of his paintings, each narrative can be seen as a chapter from his subconscious. Lions serve as one of his favourite themes, and have resided within many of his recent works. Horses, too, are a staple in his oeuvre. Numerous works will include variations of the animal, from the domestic racing horse to Pegasus with wings.
Meeting Myths has singled out Ventura’s valued motifs and placed together in a brand new universe. Found within the bedlam are animals from childhood fables, creatures of comfort that appease a wary audience who are well versed with the artist’s pictorial jargon. The series of lines and stars, reminiscent of an electrical storm, zigzag across the scene as crystalline shapes spiral out of from the shadows. Visually, the angular lines paired together with the creatures anchor the present piece, providing a stable ground that teases the familiar amidst a diaspora of images.
[i] Guillermo, Alice. G., Ronald Ventura: Realities, Damiani Editore, Bologna, Itay, 2011, pg. 70-71.