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Ricky Ambagan returns with his pajama-clad boy

Now on Salcedo Private View is the artist's series on the familiar yet unforeseen journey

Ricky Ambagan

Ricky Ambagan is a storyteller, encouraging dialogue or evoking a sense of nostalgia that has captivated viewers. A graduate of the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Ambagan started as an abstract artist who found satisfaction in impressionism, before finding his voice in figuration. His works have won him numerous awards since 1998, including the GSIS Painting Competition Grand Prize in 2011, The Juror’s Choice Award for LRT ART 2009, and the Philippine Art Awards Luzon Regional Winner in both 2011 and 2012.

Ambagan will again narrate enchanting visual tales at Salcedo Private View, with his solo exhibition titled no one had foreseen…, to run from December 1-17, 2022. As a sequel to his solo exhibitions at Salcedo Private View, From Here and I’m Coming Home, this collection of oil-on-canvas works draws viewers to the realm of the familiar, enabling them to see themselves in the place of the pajama-clad boy that takes center stage in these stories.

In 2019, he was named one of Tatler Philippines’ Filipino Artists Under 40 To Watch Out For. He has also mounted two sold-out exhibitions at Salcedo Private View, and set a record prize with his oil-on-canvas Uncut at The Well Appointed Life auction in 2020.

‘Primera,’ 48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas, 2022

His works explore a child’s journey to an expansive world in his imagination, fueled by his own curiosities and thirst for knowledge. Primera shows a boy sitting on the shelf propped on a composite column while reading. The books are neatly stacked, with scattered displays of toys and papers. On top of the shelf, the word ilustrado is inscribed on a wooden tab, while pictures of Jose Rizal and Juan Luna’s Spoliarium are taped on the shelf. Ilustrado, meaning “the enlightened”—how apt that the boy takes his first step into enlightenment, like the scholars of old, with the simple act of opening a book.

Ambagan the storyteller allows his viewers to tread this boy’s path to enlightenment and discovery. His series of paintings shows the depth of the boy’s immersion in books—the books get disarrayed, the ornaments float, new fantasy objects appear, and toys come to life. Ambagan brings these scenes to life with impressionist brushstrokes and flair for the surreal.

In Digging Deep, the bookshelf opens wide into a world beyond. The Other Side sees the boy, in a cape, facing a sky-like expanse behind the bookshelf. An army of toys surrounds him, as if encouraging him to take a step forward.

‘First Flight’, 48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas, 2022

In First Flight, the boy faces the pandemonium of his newfound world—the shelf disassembling and objects floating or falling. Yet he is unafraid, poised as if to take flight as he grips the straps of his wings.

‘Out of the box’, 48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas, 2022

Like a culmination of the story, or perhaps just the beginning of another, Out of the box shows the boy calmly continuing to read his book on a rock at sea with choppy waters. He has returned to his peaceful reading oblivious to his surroundings. Around him, boxes float without disruption—evoking a sense of composure and tranquility.

‘The Wolf’, 48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas, 2022

Ambagan shows mastery of his medium and technique by breaking away from the wooden tones of this collection. The Wolf stands out with its icy cool tones and inclusion of animals. The boy sits in the fulcrum of the seesaw, flanked by a hippopotamus and a bear. The bear made of glass weighs down the seesaw.

‘Woke’, 36 x 48 inches, oil on canvas, 2022

Woke explores the theme of enlightenment and discovery, this time through the imagination of a girl just stepping out into the new world. Ambangan, in a straightforward manner, expounds on the title and its meaning through a simple reference to the iconic Michelangelo masterpiece.

Ambagan has always ventured out of his comfort zone, in the process proving his mastery of various artistic techniques. He portrays his experiences through distorted images of social life, hyperrealist reinterpretations of famous works, and surrealist renderings of his thoughts and feelings, even as he uses familiar motifs.

no one had foreseen runs from December 1-17, 2022, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the main gallery of Salcedo Auctions (NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City). The online catalog is available at For inquiries, email [email protected] or phone +632 8 8230956 | +63 917 591 2191. Follow @salcedoauctions @gavelandblock on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

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