One of today’s leading voices in contemporary Southeast Asian art, Ronald Ventura (b. 1973, Manila) is a multi-awarded artist since his student days at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, bagging the prestigious and longest-running student art competition in the country in 1990 sponsored by Shell Corporation. He ventured into the academe after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 1993, teaching studio courses in his alma mater for several years before devoting himself fully to artistic practice. Two solo shows in the year 2000, All Souls Day and Innerscapes, jumpstarted a career spanning two decades to date—highlighted by groundbreaking market performance alongside institutional presence. His dynamically evolving corpus of works exhibit, among many other things, an eclectic of source of iconography, a wide variety of themes and subjects, and formal risks that push the boundary of image-making. Such achievements have crystallized his place as a tour de force in Philippine and Southeast Asian visual arts.
His numerous distinctions from esteemed institutions in art include the Thirteen Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2003, and the Ateneo Art Award in 2005. The latter granted him a studio residency program in Sydney, Australia, a major turning point in his career as it opened doors for him in the global contemporary art scene and profoundly shaped his ever-expanding artistic vision. He has shown his works in the 2009 Prague Biennale and 2010 Nanjing Biennial, the Tyler Rollins Fine Art in New York, and Primo Marella Gallery in Milan. In 2011, he was awarded another residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute and in the same year made a record-breaking sale for his painting Grayground at the auction of Sotheby’s Hong Kong for Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings. In 2017, he mounted his most comprehensive solo show to date at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila titled Shadow Forest: Encounters and Explorations, and participated in Changing Perspective: Art Jog 10 in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
Ventura’s oeuvre consists of a wide range and variety of media, continuously evolving and experimenting on new material, themes, and subjects. He has worked with drawings, paintings, prints, photography, sculptures, and installations. Hyperrealistic and photographic images would often be combined with figures sourced from popular culture, art historical styles and movements, and religious and folk traditions. He also takes interest in exploring the human form as a way of commenting on social issues, human values, and current events. For instance, he would render human figures in Classical realism or Modernist stylization mixed with features from gadgets, machines, animals, or religious statuary. Recently, his works deal with themes of diaspora, dislocation, the idea of cosmopolitanism and humanity’s search for home and belonging.