Ronald Ventura: Recyclables

We are constantly reminded of it. In the newspapers, on TV and the internet. The world is collapsing around our ears, sings Michael Stipe of REM in Out of Time. The signs are all there: global warming, terrible floods, strange weather and diminishing resources. Some species following the way of dodo and becoming zoological footnotes. The only thing missing would be signs in yellow ochre and black declaring the end of the world is nigh. Unless. We. Do. Something. About. It.” – Ronald Ventura

Recyclables, over 40 new works by leading Filipino artist Ronald Ventura produced in collaboration with STPI, explores humanity’s relationship with its environment and challenges our belief systems in a wide range of art produced from rubble and mythology. Visually complex and robust in form, Ventura ‘recycles’ stories and imagery from popular culture and folklore and makes expansive, multi-layered works with print, paper and discarded urban materials.

Point of Know Return, resemble hazard signs made of aluminum plates embellished with cartoon characters, skulls and gas masks in lithography. Like hypothetical road signs, it directs us into a future of Disneyland doom, a warning signal to the trappings of our modern preoccupations.

Ventura’s apocalyptic Eden, Broccoli Cloud, is an installation of gigantic papier-mâché sculptures sprouting like broccoli flowers in STPI gallery but bears a cryptic resemblance to mushroom clouds of nuclear destruction. Ventura’s paradoxical garden speaks of unknown menaces in harmless disguise, such as genetically engineered crops. Peril need not come in massive explosions, but unfold quietly.

Coming full circle are Ventura’s paper trees of Into the Woods and Shadow Forest, the former are monumental canvas collages of paper casts and rubbings of traditional Filipino wood panels and furniture, originally trees and now reincarnated into new art forms. Shadow Forest, melds together faces, skulls and animals into seamless paper tree sculptures mounted onto back-lit canvases. These intimate, monochromatic pieces bring introspection to elemental life forms and innate energies of natural life that will continue to transcend our fickle material world.

Soon after setting a world record auction sale for a painting by any Southeast Asian artist, (US$1.1 million in May 2011 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong), Ventura was already pushing limits and producing new collaborative works with STPI’s workshop team.

Ventura said, “Working at STPI has made me reevaluate my own artistic strategies. STPI’s workshop technology, materials, and expertise enabled me to make great experiments. To try new things, to figure out new ways, to do art in a manner that has never crossed my mind, and to end up with something surprisingly fresh and undeniably new in this artistic wonderland at the heart of the Lion City”.