Ronald Ventura: A glitch in the matrix
It has been stated how there is a riot of images in Ronald Ventura’s art. That statement rings much truer in his latest oeuvre which recalls sliding puzzle or even the Cut-Up Technique in literature (championed by the likes of William S. Burroughs and David Bowie). In Ventura’s most recent paintings, you have subjects intruded upon suddenly by astronauts, butterflies or appropriations from classical art renderings of Christian hands, an imitation of Christ. The imagery, although jarring at first, creates its own weird sense of balance, cohesion and harmony.
There is glitch in reality, the artist says. Objects are not actually stable. They are in constant state of flux, although we give in to the illusion that everything is static. An object, he adds, contains everything — from its history to its future. Ventura’s paintings aim to present glimpses of subjects with their simultaneous presences.
We always carry the past with us, he explains. Even the future without even knowing it. The world is ruled by intrusion and collision. Ventura gives an example: one day a person may be quietly riding a bike and all is tranquil in the world, but then suddenly gets hit by a car and everything becomes this confluence of flesh and metal.
Clashes, conflicts cannot be avoided. They have shaped the world.
Humanity still lives with its past constantly. Books as well as movies and TV series endlessly explore facets of our past — and find something new to even alter the present and the future. The past is something seductive, worth stepping into from time to time. Because men have brought something from the past and have kept it. A sense of barbarism, perhaps? Or a predilection for violence? Although the means and the methods have changed. We still hear the echoes, the bug in our ear. We nurture a darkness and it is constantly stirring. But there is also a sense of light and wonder that shine through.
Thus, Ventura’s images show subjects with resonances of their past and even their future. You could practically see memories and anticipation at the same time, he says. Like a compendium of scanned images. Portraits that are cut and jump out. No discernable pattern at first. But there is method to the madness. There is a hidden value.
Ventura talks about portraiture done in the past where artists inserted images from mythology into the sitters’ portraits. A way of bleeding delicious fiction into the mundanity of reality, forming a higher truth in the process. Sort of how James Joyce portrayed an ordinary Dubliner going about his ordinary day while recreating, unbeknownst to him, the odyssey of a Greek mythological king. What Neil Gaiman does when he mixes mythologies, creating endless nights of dreaming, dying and being born again.
Sometimes the changes are abrupt. Like how religion is regarded in today’s world — going from being an integral part of life, to becoming something to shed or discard, and now going back to being basic and intrinsic. Ventura gives an example of someone embodying contradictions: Kanye West, a man who walks around with the passion of his inconsistencies.
The changes in reality, Ventura observes, is swift. That shift to a different phase is instant. Thus, images are not flat or stable anymore.
They dance with light.